Friday, December 28, 2007

Into the Wild

"I wanted movement and not a calm course of existence. I wanted excitement and danger and the chance to sacrifice myself for my love. I felt in myself a superabundance of energy which found no outlet in our quiet life."
-Leo Tolstoy, as quoted in "Into the Wild"

I jut got finished reading the book "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer. I had some of these same thoughts a few months ago when I saw the movie that was made from the same book but it is relevant to the way I am feeling right now so I thought I would share.

If you haven't heard the story it is about a boy who graduates from college and is really unsatisfied with the life that he is living. He donates all his saving to charity ($25,000) and leaves everything behind to set off on this great adventure across the US and eventually pursues his dream of living off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. I won't be ruining the story if I tell you that in the end, he makes a mistake and ends up starving to death in the wilderness.

I can't help but see myself in that boy. Just out of college (me too!) he is young, adventurous (sounding familiar…), he is unsatisfied with his life and leaves everything behind to follow his dream (I am going to do that!). In his case, his dream is to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. So I see myself in his spirit.

I wonder if he knew how it would end—death and lonely starvation—would he have still gone? I think he would have. I am almost sure. Dreams like that are too powerful to walk away from. If I knew that following my dreams would cost me anything important, would I have the ambition to follow them? I think I would have to.

This concept is really hard for some people to understand, but if your dreams aren't that compelling, you are living the wrong life. Those are strong words but I believe in them completely. Let me repeat that in case you didn't get it because I mean it: if your dreams aren't that compelling, you are living the wrong life.

Some people think that the guy in the story was an idiot. A lot of people think he was too unprepared and it was a wrong decision for him to go into the wild. I won't get into the details but I would urge those people to read the book and understand who he was and what really happened. I personally think that thinking he was an idiot is completely absurd and most people who understand what it is to dream big would never say that. He had a dream and he had the courage to follow it no matter that the personal cost. What would you sacrifice for your dreams? If you can't answer that question you should take a hard look at your life and wonder if you are selling yourself short.

People tell me all the time that the Peace Corps will cost me things. It will cost me experiences with friends and family, it could cost me my dignity, even my life. Realistically I know that the experience will be really really difficult. It will be uncomfortable most of the time, frustrating all of the time, and I will be probably really lonely. To tell you the truth, none of that matters to me. I know what it could cost and what I will probably have to give up in the long run and the short run. I also know that I have to do it. Period. I can't explain it, I don't understand it, but my dreams have compelled me to do this and nothing else matters. I understand why that boy had to go to Alaska. I don't think that not going was an option for him. He made some mistakes and it cost him his life but I believe the story when it says he was happy in the end.

He had some crazy dreams and he believed in the possibility of realizing them. He had the courage to chase his dreams no matter what the cost…do you?

Note: Excerpts of this blog are from a similar blog I posted on myspace on October 22 after seeing the movie. Sorry for anyone who is getting repeat information. Thanks for being interested.


Christine said...

Agreed. Completely.

Its the one year anniversary of our trip to South Africa... I think we should try to re-group, online of course, probably via email, and see where we all are, one year later. Just see how it changed us, that sort of thing.

Anyway, I'm so proud of you! (and jealous, too!) Way to actually DO something!

Christy G. said...

That was beautifully written. Kinda how I'm feeling actually.

Sarah said...

Thank you! Thank you! I'm leaving for central or south America in January and I just found your blog. I've felt compelled to follow my dreams my entire life and I've never heard of anyone who feels like I do. So thank you for being passionate!