Everyone has different reasons and ways of “running away.” One could run away to escape and start a new life by moving to an entirely different country. Another could leave home to find a place more suitable for his interests. We’ve all fantasized about running away for various reasons, but let’s be real, it takes a lot of guts and effort to leave and start anew. However, it may not have been too difficult for Christopher McCandless. In the biographical film, Into the Wild, we see how he abandons the conventional manner of living for a life of adventure and self-realization.
Prior to leaving, Christopher graduated with honors from Emory University in Georgia, USA and was set on going to law school. Instead, he destroys his identification documents and credit cards, donates nearly all his savings, and leaves home without informing his family to find happiness elsewhere. This was the start of a new life for him. With his vagabond lifestyle, he goes from encountering hippies in Northern California to canoeing in the Colorado River (and ending up in Mexico) to traveling on freight trains in Los Angeles. Eventually, he gets tired of the materialistic life as well, and decides to hitchhike to Alaska to be in isolation with nature. Content at first upon reaching his destination in the woods, he slowly realizes that nature is harsher than it is beautiful. He runs out of supplies, burns his last few dollars when he was desperate for heat, and struggles to find food. With life getting harder and sadder for him, he begins to document his reflections on a journal and writes down everything he has to say in case worse comes to worst.
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
It took Christopher 2 years away from home and nearly 5 months in the wilderness for him to realize that for himself. He may have lived the way he truly wanted to, but ironically, the isolation he aimed for was what (emotionally) killed him.
When we travel, we find a bit more of ourselves in the things we are immersed in (just like how Christopher did) and definitely more so when we travel to escape from something. We may not be as hardcore as Christopher was when we try to find more to life, but his realizations from his travels have led me to grasp something of my own from this film and from being thousands of miles away from home: We may try to leave reality and our usual conventional lives of routine in order to lead a life of our own, but reality will always, eventually come for us. The act of running away may have been glamorized in other films and literature, that you will always find a better life somewhere out there, and all that other cliche stuff, but Into the Wild serves as a reminder that reaching the furthest point we can get to won’t always be a happy ending.