I read Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild last Saturday. This biography on Chris Candless begins with his death in the “bush” of Alaska nearly fifteen years ago. I can’t decide whether or not he was plain stupid or incredibly brave for stepping way beyond his comfort zone. He graduated from Emory University and immediately disappeared from society. His family was as clueless as the police were about his whereabouts. Candless took his few belongings and drove west- like Arizona west. He was from Washington D.C.
The life on the road (Jack Kerouac inspired) was what he called it. He hitchhiked from the Arizona desert to a North Dakota mill where he worked. After a couple of months, he ended up in California and then was caught floating on a kayak near the shore of Mexico. The last feat was living in Alaska by himself. He wanted to imitate one of his idols, Henry David Thoreau, by vanishing from society. He wanted to return after a period of time to show that people don’t need others to survive. Well, he didn’t live to tell the tale. Only his journals and interviews with the people who picked up Candless can illuminate his radical life. He shared with everyone he met with his beliefs of forsaking the comforts of money and titles,.
Many say his hubris led him to his tragic death. He underestimated the power of the Alaskan wild. With no map and only a twenty five pound bag of rice, Leo Tolstoy, and Jack London, he wanted to spend the summer in the middle of nowhere. He carried a weak rifle to shoot moose and other critters for meat. However, many admire his life of audacity. Candless came from a wealthy and educated family. He graduated with A’s and was heading to law school. Yet, he choose to test the boundaries of human existence and push beyond physical limits.
I want to see it.