I recently saw a wonderful movie, Into The Wild. The movie follows a young man after he graduates with honors from college. He decides to cut himself off from capitalistic society - he burns his social security card, gives away all his money and makes a decision to end all communication with his friends and family. The motivating force behind his action is anger at his parents. For anyone that has experienced a dysfunctional family (dare I say most of us), one can understand harboring ill will at those who screwed up our impressionable minds with lies, emotional abuse, and misguided actions. Some may say the main character, Alexander, overreacts.
My first thought was he did. However, I understood his anger and his cockiness - as obnoxious as he was, he was acting out of a pain that was fresh and impossible to escape. Alexander sets off on an amazing journey to try (to escape). His goal is Alaska.
He seems compelled to go to this place which is void of any hint of commercialism. In its place is what Alexander wants the most, "truth". The character worships the wisdom Henry David Thoreau who puts truth above fame, money, and love. Thoreau, himself, spent over two years living with nature at Walden Pond. This author's experience led him to believe that if one were to live a truthful life it would require us to simplify our existence by shedding our lives of unnecessary attachments. Alexander took Thoreau's words to the extreme.
He picked a much more severe natural setting. Alexander's Walden Pond was a remote, harsh territory of Alaska. His home of several weeks was a dilapidated bus (not sure how it got there) in the middle of the wild. It became the place where he slept and wrote of his adventure. He read, and hunted, and lived the life he was sure would have made Thoreau proud. Along his journey, Alexander meets other wandering souls.
These interactions with well meaning folks soften the hard edges of the main character. And even though Alexander sees how forgiveness and family may have their place, he is determined to complete his destiny, while clinging to his anger. Once in the belly of nature, Alexander feels at home (for a while). The solitude and natural beauty feeds him like the nurturing spirit of the family he wished he had. But as abundant and beautiful as nature is, it can be harsh as well. Harsh because it does speak the truth (Thoreau was right about this); and the truth, at its deepest level, is often hard to bear.
The truth about the wild (nature) is that all that live and die there, depend upon more then just themselves for survival. Berries that grow need the sun and moisture. The moose need water from the river. And the wolves need other, weaker animals to feast upon. There is an unspoken bond that exists between these players. There connection is not at once seen for what it is, but those involved know at a deep level that they are a part of something bigger.
Alexander was a very intelligent person. His mind grabbed onto the concepts that Thoreau so eloquently put to paper, but Alexander's heart was separated from his mind and body. What he did not understand was he could not find truth by escaping his past.
Only when Alexander acknowledged his family would always be a part of him (and forgive them) would he be able to thrive. The tree knows it is part of nature. When it is cold or there is no sun, the tree does not choose to separate itself from nature because it feels slighted. It just remains, and in time the sun and the rain bring it nourishment. Nature adapts. It knows what it is and trusts that it will be given what it needs.
Alexander had this epiphany near the close of his death. He found himself stuck in the wilderness and on the brink of starvation, when he began to write in his journal more from his heart than in his head. He wrote his thoughts in the form of a list. Simple and to the point, his words showed a break in anger, and revealed his true spirit - one that finally connected with the nature that surrounded him. I highly recommend this film. It is out on DVD right now-available anywhere.
It was difficult and painful to watch, but the message was inescapably clear. It was the one of Alexander's final entries, "true happiness is shared." In life, as in nature, I could not agree more.
Kim McGinnis is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. Her video production company, Avenstar, creates all kinds of projects-infomercials, training videos, promotional videos (to name a few)Also visit Mark's (Kim's partner) blog, Bring You Success to learn valuable tips to grow your website's traffic-& earn more money now.