I went to see the movie Into the Wild with my brother on Thursday. The movie is based on the book of the same name by John Krakauer, and we had both read the book a while back. The movie’s soundtrack is also done by Eddie Vedder, so that was another draw.
The movie was quite good. For those that don’t know the story, it details the life of a 23 year old that leaves the world behind after graduating college. He gives away $24,000 earmarked for his graduate degree, burns the rest of his money, abandons his car and starts backpacking/hitching his way around the western United States. He kayaks down to Mexico on the Colorado, works a farm in South Dakota, and hangs out with some modern day hippies in Arizona. Though he spends about a year bouncing around, his ultimate destination is Alaska to see the wilderness and to live off the land.
A big part of me sees the draw of this type of life. I have Thoreau’s desire to “live life deliberately” off in a cabin in the woods. I enjoy walking away from the world’s comforts and responsibilities when I can - to slow things down, to simplify things. I have particularly enjoyed my one and two week biking/camping trips, though we certainly weren’t without some of life’s comforts. As my friends consider camper trailers, I continue to resist leaving the tent life behind because I truly enjoy cooking over the fire or fighting with my 50 year old gas stove.
There was a great PBS series some years ago about a man who moves to the Alaska wilderness to see if he can make it for a year. He brought a camera along and filmed his progress as he builds a log home and lives off the land. His year-long experiment turns into a decades long way of life, as he stays there until his age and health force him to come back to society. I need to see if I can find the series on DVD. From my memory of it, the guy reminds me a bit of my father-in-law.
As I was heading out to see the movie, the wife says something like “now make sure you come back”. She understands the draw heading off to the woods has for me. It is just a dream really, but a nice one to hang on to. For now I am satisfied for my little trips into the woods, not into the wild. I’m not sure I’m ready to kill dinner just yet.