Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Into the Wild

Hey yal!

So I have another, dying blog where I was thinking of writing this, but, frankly, I expect I'll delete it in a few weeks, so I'd like to put this some place that will still be around in a month.

So without further ado, I just finished Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer.  So the question that's on your mind is: "Why should I read this review?  What can I gain?  What are you going to say?

-You should read this review because it has wisdom in it that can be immediately applied to your life.

-You will gain a different perspective on life if you read it with an open mind.

-I am going to talk about why Chris was right, why he was wrong, and what we can all do right now to use the wisdom from this book to enhance our lives.

So first, why he was right: Chris was right because he listened to that restless calling we all hear.  Some of us may have learned to suppress it more than others, but I know that when I am working on my computer for 7 hours, I am desperately yearning to get out and live.  When I am studying for my tests, I am marveling at how incredibly useless what I am doing, is.

I think the joy Chris gained from his adventures is a wonderful reference for why we should get out an explore the world.  He wasn't happy because he had the newest technology, nor did he even know when his next meal would be, but what he did know was that he was free.  He was liberated from the expectations, the materialism, and the rules that we often live by.  I think we all have something to gain by living in freedom, and learning what really matters in our lives.

Now let's move to the second point, why Chris was wrong. Chris was wrong first and foremost because he didn't prepare properly.  The only reasonable explanation I can think of is that he was very confident in himself, and was sure he could work himself out of any trouble.  There's a short excerpt from the author who actually had a similar experience who confessed the same thing.  Either way, the fact remains, the one thing Chris did SERIOUSLY wrong was to misinterpret how unforgiving nature can be.  That being said, he did die doing what he loved, and I think that's a pretty remarkable thing all things considered.

The other thing Chris did seriously wrong was failing to grasp the impact that throwing his life away would have.  I doubt Chris realized how much people loved him, but the aftermath of the book shows how big an impact he had on people.  His family was completed devastated, and his sister (who he had been closest to) screamed for hours after hearing of her brother's death, and has repeatedly broke down crying on here way home from errands.  This can be further seen by a 84 year old man he stayed with for about 3 weeks.   At the end of the 3 weeks, Chris wrote the man a 3 page letter telling him the value of living more aesthetically, and this EIGHTY THREE YEAR OLD MAN took his advice, sold his house, bought a little mobile home, and went to live with some other homeless people off the highway.  Needless to say, he was absolutely devastated when he heard Chris died.

So the final question, is what can we do NOW, with the knowledge from this book.  There are really two big things you can do.  First of all, is to get rid of some stuff.  Chris donated $25,000 (100% of his savings) to charity, and left in a car that contained a guitar, a sauce pan, a football, and a garage bag full of clothes, a fishing rod, and 25 pounds of rice.

Now I'm not suggesting you sell all your possessions, by a sedan, and ditch town with what he took, but I do think sometimes we incorrectly interpret what we need.  Chris didn't need a laptop, a cell phone, and he only brought $4.93 with him!

Now I'll be real, I just bought Gears of War 3, and I love it.  I have no intention of getting rid of my laptop, nor my cell phone, and I definitely don't plan to get rid of my life's savings!  It may sound silly, but if you just clean your room, car, and apartment, you will find a lot of things you didn't know you had, and I think that would be a great place to begin living more deliberately.  (Which I haven't mentioned yet, but living deliberately was one of the major themes of Chris' life).  I recommend doing this because I did this today, and my crowded car all of a sudden is both cleaner, and emptier as I realized how much junk I had in there.

The second thing you can do is to reconnect with nature.  I think, when it really came down to it, that's what Chris was really looking for.  It was the freedom that nature provided that was the real attraction.  It was wondering if he was going to survive the cold night, thinking about his next meal, and having a meaningful challenge that drew Chris to abandon the suburbs and get out Into the Wild.

Now if you want to take a serious adventure, you know someone to invite.  But odds are, most of you are living comfortable lives.  I know because I am too.  But one thing we can do is to go outside.  Nature really isn't that far away.  I know this may be a hassle if you live in the 9th floor, but please do yourself a favor, and get outside and take 5 deep breaths.  When you're outside, try to take in the color, and the natural beauty that sorrounds us.

Okay.  but like seriously, go look, go breath.

Oh, Look.  A music video.  You should watch it.  Oh, look at that, it's telling you to go outside!

Also, bring your cell phone just in case.

*you finally, grudgingly, concede and get up from your computer and go outside.  You then come back to the computer to finish this post*

How did it feel?  I'll bet it felt pretty good.  I actually got up too to do this, and I actually locked myself out too! (that's why I told you to bring your cell phone.)  But I'll bet you noticed something different.  Maybe you looked up and saw the stars.  Or maybe a tree that grew in a very symmetrical way, or a patch of grass, stubbornly growing in the middle of a crowded city, just lapping up the abundant supply of CO2.  Nature is even inside.  I encourage you, and this goes for myself too, to try to notice it a little more.  I think often times we get so distracted focusing on our money, our job, our worries, and we forget that nature is all around us, flourishing and thriving, doing it's beautiful thing.   I think by connecting with nature more, we can remember how we fit into the world, we can remember some perspective, and we can gain an insight on how to live a more meaningful life.

I hope you guys enjoy this post.  Especially the video, haha.  If you like this, please let me know!  And I'll be sure to make more.  If you absolutely hated it, tell me, and I promise to never make you suffer through this agony again, haha.

I am going to leave you with one of the last things Chris ever did.  He highlighted this passage, and wrote a brief note.  I'm telling you this because I think it nicely summarizes what Chris learned from this whole experience, and, in turn, what we can learn from his adventure.

"And so it turned out that only a life similar to the life of those around us, merging with it without a ripple, is genuine life, and that an unshared happiness is not happiness. . . . . And this was most vexing of all"  (Chris wrote by this: *Happiness only real when shared*) (btw the quote is from Doctor Zhivago)


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