I’m reading Into the Wild right now. I originally picked it up because I have an ongoing crush on Emile Hirsch, but now that I am a few chapters into it, it is plain to see that this will be very, very different from the movie. Honestly, last night I had to put it down and read something else before I fell asleep, because I was scared I was going to have nightmares. I know that this isn’t too surprising for those of you who know me, and know what an enormous pansy I am, but still. It’s haunting, and absolutely tears apart certain ideals that my generation has grown up with. I’m talking about the idealistic desires we have of living outside of society, always needing less than people say you need, and finding yourself through solitude.
I went to college with a lot of idealistic, upper-middle class kids, and we all thought we were going to save the world. We thought that we would someday live in tiny, monk-like apartments, and never, ever want anything else. We thought we would all spend the majority of our time serving soup to the homeless on street corners and creating a broader sense of community around us. In the book, Chris (who dies of starvation in Alaska when he decides to live in the wild), reminded me so much of a few of my friends from my college, it is both humorous and terrifying. These were the friends who were constantly challenging me to get out of my box and live a life that is based on more than self-preservation. I could not be more thankful for these people. Even so, this book is a stabbing reminder that we also need to be logical in our explorations. Even philosophers have to eat.
I think it would be great if all of our ideals in college came true. I would gladly move back up to Minnesota and live in a commune with my fifty closest friends, as long as I could continue to shave my legs and I wouldn’t be told to start stocking up on peanut butter and armed weapons. I think that living a life to serve others is exactly what we are told to do as Christians. What I don’t think makes much sense is the idea that we need to take ourselves out of the world and out of another’s reach in order to “find ourselves”. Rarely do people go to such extremes as the tragic character I’m reading about right now. But whenever they do, these people are idolized beyond belief. I guess what I’m trying to do, at 1:30 in the morning (so, probably unsuccessfully), is take a clear look at why people desire to live their lives counter-culturally, and which motivations behind these desires are beneficial. It goes back to selfish vs. unselfish actions. Again. What a giant surprise.
Sleep needs to come pretty quickly here. Preferably not on my keyboard.