November 2014 archive

↣ For now I walk into the wild

My next source of experience surrounding my essay question ‘is travelling running away or running towards something?’ has been to read Jon Krakauer’s autobiographical tale of Chris McCandless’s trek into the wild, originally titled ‘Into the Wild’. It tells the story of McCandless’s young hopes and dreams of the Alaskan wilderness, his naivety cost him his life in 1992 when after travelling America he finally got to Alaska, four months later his emancipated body was found wrapped in his blue sleeping bag in an abandoned bus. Chris’s story was special because of the amount of people’s lives that he touched along the way, Chris himself appeared to develop no particular attachment to any of these people, and was known to keep them at arms length, but when Krakauer begun interviewing those who met McCandless on his travels, they all seem to have been touched by him.

into-the-wild

McCandless was scathed after his death by those who read his story as he did in fact have a loving family back in Washington whom he disappeared from without a trace.His loneliness and isolation was self made, his demise self conflicted. “McCandless was thrilled to be on his way north, and he was relieved as well—relieved that he had again evaded the impending threat of human intimacy, of friendship, and all the messy emotional baggage that comes with it. He had fled the claustrophobic confines of his family. He’d successfully kept Jan Burres and Wayne Westerberg at arm’s length, flitting out of their lives before anything was expected of him. And now he’d slipped painlessly out of Ron Franz’s life as well.” McCandless was not just a nomad of literal means, not content with constantly changing jobs and place to stay, he also appears to have been an emotional wanderer, he either didn’t realise or didn’t care for those he left behind, thinking nothing of the effect he had on them. Perhaps I admire this because it meant he never got hurt or worried, but I can’t help but see it as just a little selfish.

“Seven weeks after the body of his son turned up in Alaska wrapped in a blue sleeping bag that Billie had sewn for Chris from a kit, Walt studies a sailboat scudding beneath the window of his waterfront townhouse. ‘How is it,’ he wonders aloud as he gazes blankly across Chesapeake Bay, ‘that a kid with so much compassion could cause his parents so much pain?’” Walt and Billie were Chris’s parents, speaking to Krakauer after their sons death. I think perhaps they did not understand his mind at all, resulting in the end sad relationship where McCandless felt unable to speak to his parents about travelling, and so he had to just up and go. Perhaps his frivolity was only achievable because of the spontaneity of his departure, if it had been more planned, from what I have learnt about McCandless from reading this book, he would have felt the trip ruined.

chris-mccandless

So far I’m two weeks into reading this and I’m half way through, usually I would be a little disappointed at this slow pace but so much has been happening recently, the time has just slipped away. I’ve got a stall at a huge christmas market in two weeks which I am going crazy making for,and the orders I’m getting are coming in thick and fast.

So I will leave with a quote I have just got to in the book which I really like : “A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.”.

I think what Krakauer and McCandless are trying to get across here is the idea that wherever you are, you have to be ‘all there’, ‘participate’ if you will, you have to immerse yourself in where you are and what you are doing and not think about anything else for you to truly enjoy it.

Clarissa

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↣ Viewpoint : They say i’m running away

So, I’m getting down to the deep corners of my ultimate question ‘is long term travel running away or running towards something?’. Well, I’ve found that when I ask someone this, mostly the immediate response is that it’s running away from something, unless that person happens to be an aspiring nomad themselves.

From a personal point of view, I see it as a beautiful, free spirited and humble combination of the two.

I see it as running away from a life of convention and conforming and running towards the unknown, the excitement, and the adventure.

adventure

You see, who was it that set out the rules? Or did we unknowingly make them ourselves; the idea that in life you have to follow the same methodical path. That you’ve got to conform and settle down and go through the motions of growing up, finding a partner, settling down with them and having kids. Not for a moment do I say that this is bad or wrong or anything like that, because I know truly that most people are entirely happy and contented with this lifestyle. Maybe it became ‘the norm’ because it was just the easiest thing to do and everyone found themselves mainly happy with it.

The only thing that I see as wrong with this concept of life is the way that people look down on those that chose to disregard it. Those that throw caution to the wind and take life their own way and make their own untrodden path.

remind yourself

Why is it that society put such pressure on doing what everyone else is doing? They tell us at school that we have to be individual because ‘God made us that way’ and that you’re meant to be your own person because we are all unique. But then as soon as you leave behind those colourful childhood classrooms and kind teachers encouraging your uniqueness, you’re suddenly thrown into a place who will passionately disparage you from going your own way. All of a sudden, you can do what you want but you’re sure as hell going to be persuaded not to.

I love the quote above because I agree with it so much. I believe passionately that to achieve the most out of life, you’ve got to buck the trend and do what your heart tells you to do, not what is being drummed by seeing ‘normality’. The common mistake people associate with this is the idea that by doing this, you’re being selfish.

I don’t believe it is selfish. Not in the slightest.

Think about it, there are well over 7 billion people currently living on earth, and each one is made up of completely unique cells creating a body and mind completely different to the one next to it. This means you can never truly understand what anyone else is thinking, there are so many billions of variations, so there are billions of ideas and opinions. Which inevitably clash and disagree. It’s normal. So the idea that one person thinks travelling the world and ‘running away from something’ is a wonderful thing and something that should be embraced, of course it’s opposed by the idea that it’s wrong and selfish. But disagreements don’t mean that you can’t persue your dreams. The fact that I don’t think it’s selfish is my own opinion, and it is shared by many, and I do understand that there are people who counter it and completely disagree.

That doesn’t mean I’m right, or what I want to do is right, what I mean is that it’s right for me.

next vacation

And that I suppose is what it’s all about, you’ve got to do what’s right for you because, you’re the one who misses out if you don’t follow your dreams. The human race is a very selfish as a whole, people tend to think about mainly themselves. You have to do what makes you happiest.

The ones that tell you not to go off and travel are probably just jealous that you have the guts to do so.

So yes, maybe travel is running away from something, running away from the fear of regretting your whole life that you never climbed that god damn mountain or boarded that long haul flight. But it’s also running towards an infinite amount of endless possibilities and adventures that are just waiting to happen.

“Adventure is out there”

Clarissa

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