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Book Review – Into The Wild, Eddie Vedder And Looking For Ultimate Freedom

It’s a mystery to me We have a greed with which we have agreed You think you have to want more than you need Until you have it all you won’t be free [Eddie Vedder – Society]

I have been on a Jon Krakauer kick lately. Specifically, this means that I read (listened and watched) both “Into The Wild” and “Into The Thin Air” in the last couple of months.

I have a rule that if I have even a remote interest in reading the book, I hold off on watching the movie. I enjoyed the movie immeasurably better than the book, and perhaps, that’s not surprising.

There is more clarity to a movie, even the one based on a true story. There is a certainty to it. A distinguishable narrative arc. A build-up. Few interesting characters thrown for good measure. A dash of sexual tension. And a clear ending.

This is who Chris was. This is whom Chris met. This is who Chris became. This is how he died.

I wish things were that clear in real life.

In actuality, we have no idea why Chris took off into the wilderness, or what random combination of factors ended up contributing to his death.

Most people deemed Chris either a spoiled brat or a true adventurer. What if he was both? He identifies himself as “an extremist, an aesthetic voyager.” A book review by an English professor reminds us that this label goes hand in hand with “passion for aloneness and his avoidance of enduring human commitments, whether to family or to the friends who help him get to Alaska”.

Ultimate freedom is tempting.

The idea of it is intoxicating, but implications are scary. Must you wander around in the wilderness, without any conveniences of the modern world to be truly free?

“No watch, no map. Just be out there IN IT. In the wild”.

Where do you draw the arbitrary line? Why bring rice? Why bring a gun? Why pick the coldest state, rather than Florida or California, where “living off the land” would be significantly more realistic?

Dig deep enough, and you may find yourself not just walking into the wilderness, but jumping off a cliff, or even staring down the barrel of a gun, as you look for ultimate freedom.

I find myself grateful that I didn’t have $24,000 in my college fund when I was in my 20s, so I never had a chance to donate it all to OXFAM and take off to Alaska. If I did, maybe I would do just that.

Eddie Vedder’s Society on the soundtrack fit perfectly, yet was an unexpected slap in the face. This was my India song. I listened to it on repeat for a good portion of those 6-8 months.

Check out the soundtrack to the film, it’s lovely in its entirety.

Hugs, SOLO


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