- Important concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics. “Dim,” “Deep,” or “Mysterious”
- Awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.
In 1996, Jon Krakauer, the author of Into Thin Air, published an amazing, thoughtful book entitled Into the Wild. This book tells the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless who, after graduating from college, spurned his former affluent life and the bright, comfortable future ahead of him. Motivated by books he read by Jack London and John Muir, McCandless dedicated himself to a personal vision quest that began in the western and southwestern regions of America. Changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, McCandless gave his savings of $25,000 to charity, abandoned all his possessions, left his car in the Mojave Desert, and burned all of his cash to ensure that nothing would hold him back from his journey. Looking for his own personal paradise on this earth, McCandless even threw away all of his maps and traveled only by his intuition. In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked into Alaska and walked into the vast cold wilderness north of Mount McKinley. For a while, McCandless found shelter in an abandoned old school bus. Four months later, however, his body was found by a moose hunter.
No one knows what ultimately motivated McCandless’s careless journey. Questions still remain about a young man’s need to walk away from a rich and promising future to live homeless and starving in the barren wildness of Alaska. Some people claim that McCandless had a death wish and a need for self-destruction. Others just dismiss McCandless’s actions as foolish and innocently reckless.
Well, I guess I am foolish and reckless too….
I don’t claim to know what was in McCandless’s head or why he choose his particular lifestyle, but there is a core element inside of me that feels so connected to his story. In response to Krakauer’s consistent questions in the book about McCandless’s journey, I think I understand.
There are so many of us on this earth who don’t always feel that we belong in a world that overwhelms us with violent, materialistic, opportunistic situations. Some of us who struggle to cope, do not medicate ourselves from the stress with alcohol, food, cigarettes, sex, gambling, or prescription drugs, but we do experience a deep and compelling lust all the same. Wanderlust and the need to move, to travel, to create a universe of our own existence is a hunger that is rarely satisfied.
Restless, never able to settle down, I constantly look for opportunities to escape my existence. I have no intention of doing this through self-harm. I just have a relentless need to be lost. When I travel, I rarely call or text anyone. I love driving alone down deserted highways without a single person knowing where I am in that exact moment. I enjoy the solitude, the drifting away from my reality. This has been my lifestyle for the last thirty years.
In July, 2016, I finally had the opportunity to realize a lifelong dream. I spent time this summer exploring Alaska. This was an amazing turning point for me. I had made a vow to myself that I would drive through every state in America. Alaska was the last state I needed to visit in order to satisfy this goal. However, I refused to celebrate this accomplishment. I didn’t post notices about it on Facebook. I didn’t write blogs about my experience. I just didn’t feel the need.
While I was in Alaska, I felt inspired to go completely off the grid. I wanted desperately to be lost. I wanted to cut off all communication to my former life. I didn’t call or text anyone. I only posted a few pictures on Facebook when I felt overwhelmed by the incredible scenery of glaciers, waterfalls, mountains, and animals. But I only posted about 20 of the 350 photos I took. I haven’t posted any more pictures or information about Alaska since I returned to Kansas. There is a deep part of me that just needs to keep it quiet and hidden. To experience so much of God’s amazing wilderness was so profound and awe-inspiring there was no way of putting it into words. Even the beautiful pictures I have seem bleak when compared to the Alaskan landscape itself. To this day, two months later, I have no desire to tell people about all of the amazing things that happened to me in Alaska.
I think constantly of running away again to the “last frontier.” I want to hide in her vast beauty and get lost in her majestic environment. I want to run with her wilderness and dissolve into her endless splendor.
My life’s purpose was redefined in Alaska. I came into contact with who God intended me to be. I was never meant to have the things of an ordinary life. I was not meant to have a great job, or a wonderful marriage, or an incredible home. My only life’s purpose is to grow closer to God. To know him by his world, by the beauty that surrounds me. I don’t have to be anything…in Alaska, I can just be…
I don’t care about success, or a home, or money. Just knowing in my heart and soul that I can move and explore and witness God’s glory is enough for me in this lifetime.
I don’t know Christopher McCandless’s motivation for his journey.
I didn’t travel from this life as far as Christopher did.
But there are times I really wish I had followed him.