“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure.” -Christopher McCandless
As humans, we each have instilled within us a desire to explore the unfamiliar and to live as thoroughly and as memorably as possible. Should routines begin to dull, we are prompted to examine our own lives and passions, and to reinvigorate ourselves by pursuing the likes and interests that propel us to a new sense of meaning and purpose.
The true story of Chris McCandless, the son of a well-to-do family and his solo venture to the Alaskan wilderness, is a tale of identity, independence, and an unquenchable pursuit of the self through the simplest, albeit most unforgiving force—nature. A modern-day Thoreau, Chris McCandless escapes a tense family life and sheds all familiarity in order to cultivate a path for himself. He drops his family name and takes on the persona of “Alexander Supertramp,” as he aimlessly travels what is unfamiliar to him and lives off the land. As always, the road to adventure points West, as Chris meets a host of characters on his hitchhike throughout the nation.
Ill-equipped, yet an idealist, Chris does not survive his journey. (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler. It's fact.) Journalist Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild retells the story of Chris McCandless through Chris’ postcards and journal, as discovered with Chris’ body. This is not a tale of death, but rather, a philosophical question of why Chris needed this journey, who he met along the way, and how he influenced others. To this day, adventurers, curiosity-seekers, and free spirits alike continue to visit the “Magic Bus” in which Chris died, along the rough Alaskan Stampede Trail.
I highly recommend this text to anyone with a penchant for travel, memoirs, or tales of adventure. Additionally, I encourage a viewing of Sean Penn’s film by the same title.