“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life, you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty”
– Extract from Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer.
There has never been any doubt over the years when someone asks me what my favourite book or film is. I actually watched the film – recommended by a friend whilst on my year abroad in Spain – before I had read the book and was instantly inspired. By this point, I already very much had a strong sense of wanderlust and desire to travel the world, but it was as if watching this film confirmed it. And I read the book soon after. Although the story of Chris McCandless is far from the standard story of leaving one’s normal life behind to travel – it is in fact the notion of society which he wants to escape from more than anything else – it is his adventurous spirit and deep yearning for the unknown and the sense of escapism which I think is so inspiring for many and something which a lot of people can relate to.
Into The Wild is the true story of a young man, Chris McCandless, who decides to leave his Ivy-league education and comfortable, secure and prosperous home life behind and venture into the unknown wilderness of Alaska. To him, nothing is more destructive to a man’s adventurous spirit than a secure future. With this in mind, much to his parents horror, he decides to give his life savings to Oxfam and leave ‘society’ as he knows it behind in order to live off the land in Alaska. Getting by by dipping in and out of the odd job as he makes his way through the country in the direction of Alaska, his story is fuelled by the adventures he has and the people he meets along the way.
His story ultimately “serves as medium for contemplation of our will to live, our insatiable desire for risk, and the choices we make” in life, as one critic puts it. It really is an unforgettable read and once which I whole heartedly recommend!