It was May 1990, a 20 year old man by the name of Chris McCandless just graduated college. WIth a well-to-do family and large savings account, Chris seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. Yet he ditched it all to forge out his own life in the Alaskan wilderness.
However, in August of 1992, his decomposed body was found dead in the Alaskan wilderness. While people like Chris are often condemned for taking risks similar to this one, they should be admired , for their strong individualism and willing to risk falling for a more fulfilled life. Chris not only made bold decisions but broke social norms and lived the life he wanted to live.
Many critics believe Chris was unprepared, and his arrogance led to his demise. One reason being, he didn’t accept help from anyone along the way. “No. You don’t get it. I’m going to San Diego. And I’m leaving on Monday” “OK. I’ll drive you there.” “Don’t be ridiculous,” McCandless scoffed. “I need to go anyway,” Franz lied (Krakauer 85)
While it may seem foolish of Chris to not accept help from Franz he did it for a reason, he had a set goal and wanted to reach it himself. “ My days were more exciting when I was penniless and had to forge around transportation from place to place”. (Krakauer 102) The purpose of Chris’s trip was to encounter hardships. He had grown up privileged and wanted to experience the other side of things. If Chris accepted help every time it was offered his journey would have no meaning.
Unlike most, Chris McCandless had the courage to live his dream, even if that meant giving up his life. He was ‘real’ in the sense that he saw that he was unhappy with his current life as well as the people in it and the negative aspects of civilization and chose to do something about it. Chris McCandless possessed what most of us lack, the characteristic of individuality. He never stopped to question what would make other people happy through his actions.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security solely cared for his individual happiness and chose to live purely for himself.”(Krakauer 134) . Chris did the opposite, which shows his true authenticity because the act of choosing to live for your sole happiness is an act that most of us do not have the courage to do.
While the risk Chris was willing to take to find fulfillment seems large it is miniscule compared to people like Simon and Joe. Who were the first people to reach the summit of the Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. Yet, they encountered a treacherous descent down the mountain. On there decent Joe broke his leg and fell, causing Simon to have to continue without him. Miraculously Joe survived after a treacherous 4 day decent, in solitaire.
There story is praised by people , so why isn’t Chris’s? They both involve risk, and it is fair to say they both did not know what they were getting themselves into. Yet there is one difference. Simon and Joe lived while Chris died. Chris dying should be a reason to admire him more. People who are willing to put there lives at risk to veer off the beaten path and find meaning in there life should be respected. Regardless of the outcome.
Risks are something everyone should take. Chris McCandless and his journey proves this. Even Though Chris died, and he carried ignorance along with arrogance, there were more admirable things about him than negative. He proved to the world and to himself that he could make his own life and find his own happiness. Without having to go down the cookie cutter path society lays out. His story is still shared today, his quotes are still shared today, and his story is one to be admired.