Into the Wild and Back

During the last week, a book randomly dropped to visit me. This book was purchased by a gift coupon, left by a couple that was staying over at my place for 2 nights. They said: buy a travel guide or something to inspire you for the next travel adventure (we were talking about a road trip in South America). I read travel books, but not travel guides. Although it is smart to prepare yourself before going somewhere, somehow, I like to ingest the place and that almost always requires spending more time in one place. I was happy and excited to visit the bookshop and try and find whatever would inspire me to plan the trip. Well, the guide wasn’t there. But the book “Into the Wild” was and it found me. The cover was showing a young man sitting on the top of an abandoned bus in the middle of the forest. The man who went and searched for a resolution, living on the road for a long time, until finally, dying in the Alaskan forest. The story of his death seemed, as I later discovered, to inspire many writers and naturalists that mused on his life story and recreated the path which ultimately led him to Alaska.

His fascination with the wild life and the willingness to live out of the land with no money is certainly admirable. Yet, there was this other side of him: being raised in a wealthy American family and having all the means to get a very good education and live financially secure, he had found no emotional understanding from his parents about what he was going through inside while escaping to the wilderness. It made me think a lot. About how easy it is to get hurt, and how painful our personal relationships can be, driving us into choices and interests, we maybe would not have pursued otherwise, or just wouldn’t be driven to explore at all.

There is a chapter, near the end of his journey, where he noted in one of the numerous books he read about “happiness not being true unless shared”. Definitely one of the lines, one has to agree to. Yet, he was there, always on the road and never staying long enough for people to change him, although finding many friends along the road. All of them respected him for being a reliable, hard worker and an intelligent man, they saw he was well raised and educated, well spoken. He was happy on the road, traveling almost constantly for 2 years, meeting people, yet not quite letting them interfere with what he was planning to do, having an extremely determined mind, a drive, they could not comprehend.

I found in my own life, the biggest drive is always emotional, it has nothing to do with external success, the society’s definition of acceptable, normal or successful or any other measurable factor for that matter. It was purely the need for a peace of mind, the internal conflict disappearing in the pursuit, the hurt resolving itself entirely through the process. Like traveling, writing sometimes has the same properties. A resolution. What is there after that, is completely unknown.

His sister, almost 20 year after the death, wrote a book, discovering the childhood and the unfortunate decisions that led to betrayal that her brother felt very personally and that may have driven his pursuit. His story, still touching hearts around the world, his sister, still healing and advocating healthy family relationships. The thing that brings us closer together is always the familiarity of our emotional wounds, the way they speak through our life choices, ultimately bringing us to places and people that could mend it, if we let them.

My theory is that there is always a why behind the choices and things we do, even if we don’t see it or recognize it in our own heart. There is something in the background driving us, forming us. If we accept whatever it is, or just the fact that it exists, we can live a more conscious and definitely a more fulfilling life, giving it a spiritual dimension.

Definitely recommend reading the book in its entirety, written by Jon Krakauer (follow him on Medium). The style of writing is remarkable, but regardless, the thing that made the book so successful is also the fact that the author felt personal connection with the character, letting it transform him as well, which he talks about in the book. The story and all the parallel stories and author’s personal thoughts blend in so well, making it an absolutely captivating read.