I watched the story of Chris McCandless and understand why he did what he did

By Nina Steele 

Chris McCandless died in August 1992. He was aged 24. The story of his life has been made into a film: ‘Into the Wild’. His is a truly gripping story. It is the story of a young man who had the courage to live a life that had meaning to him, as opposed to doing what society expected him to do. He lived his life with courage and for that reason, he has earned my respect and admiration.

As I watched the story of his life, I instantly understood why he chose to abandon his comfortable middle class life and seek out a completely new life for himself. It was a complete rejection of materialism of the kind that we often associate with Indian hermits. There was obviously a deep yearning within him that he could not ignore. The life he was after could never be achieved from the materialistic world he was surrounded with.

Most people spend their entire lives trying to ignore the call of their soul. Chris McCandless did the complete opposite. Upon graduating from university in May 1990, he felt like this was as far as he could go, in terms of societal expectations. He could no longer keep up appearances. He donated his life savings to charity and left, never to return.

Living in the Alaskan wilderness was his ultimate dream. He finally got there in April 1992. He lived in an abandoned bus. His aim was to live off the land, alone, away from everything and everyone. Sadly, his lack of experience of living in such a harsh environment soon caught up with him. And he was dead within a few months. His body was discovered by a group of hunters on September 6, 1992. As he died alone, the exact date of his death could not be determined, only that he stopped marking his diary after day 112 of being in Alaska.

The bus in which he lived and died became famous after his story came to light. It attracted people from around the world, whose lives he had touched. In June of this year, the bus was removed and taken to an undisclosed location because its very presence was now deemed a public safety issue. A few people had died trying to get to it.

Predictably, not everyone is a fan. Some people, including in Alaska, believe that his death could easily have been avoided had he bothered to learn the basic skills required for living in the wild.

My admiration for the way he chose to live his life has not diminished in the face of those criticisms, no matter how valid some of them are. He lived his life with extreme courage at such a young age, and that to me is highly commendable. In his short life, he managed to do what most people will never have the courage to do, namely, to live a life that is true to one’s core truth.

The story of his life is a must watch. Although the film came out in 2007, his story remains relevant today. Of course, not everyone is being called upon to turn their backs on society. However, there is a common truth to all lives, and it is that nobody can be truly happy if they choose to ignore the call of their soul. It is that voice within that is always trying to guide us. It knows the truth of who we really are and what we came here on earth to achieve. Chris McCandless felt that call very strongly and could not resist its pull.

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