Into the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
(*)(*)(*)(*)(*)(5,149)
What would possess a gifted young man recently graduated from college to literally walk away from his life? Noted outdoor writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer tackles that question in his reporting on Chris McCandless, whose emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. Described by friends and relatives as smart, literate, compassionate and funny, did McCandless simply read too much Thoreau and Jack London and lose sight of the dangers of heading into the wilderness alone? Krakauer, whose own adventures have taken him to the perilous heights of Everest, provides some answers by exploring the pull the outdoors, seductive yet often dangerous, has had on his own life.

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What distinguishes that summit above the earthly line, is that it is unhandselled, awful, grand. It can never become familiar; you are lost the moment you set foot there. You know the path, but wander, thrilled, over the bare and pathless rock, as if it were solidified air and cloud. That rocky, misty summit, secreted in the clouds, was far more thrillingly awful and sublime than the crater of a volcano spouting fire. (HENRY DAVID THOREAU, JOURNAL)
What distinguishes that summit above the earthly line, is that it is unhandselled, awful, grand. It can never become familiar; you are lost the moment you set foot there. You know the path, but wander, thrilled, over the bare and pathless rock, as if it were solidified air and cloud. That rocky, misty summit, secreted in the clouds, was far more thrillingly awful and sublime than the crater of a volcano spouting fire. (HENRY DAVID THOREAU, JOURNAL)
Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control. By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
Early on a difficult climb, especially a difficult solo climb, you constantly feel the abyss pulling at your back. To resist takes a tremendous conscious effort; you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The siren song of the void puts you on edge; it makes your movements tentative, clumsy, herky-jerky. But as the climb goes on, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control. By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence—the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes—all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand.
BellsBells added a quotation
“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
BellsBells added a quotation
“The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
LīlīthLīlīth added a quotation
Ti sbagli se credi che la gioia derivi soltanto o principalmente dalle relazioni umane. [..] Non dobbiamo che trovare il coraggio di rivoltarci contro lo stile di vita abituale e buttarci in un'esistenza non convenzionale. [...] L'unica persona con cui combatti è te stesso e la tua testardaggine a non lanciarti in nuove esperienze. [..] Vedrai cose, conoscerai gente e ti insegneranno molto. [..] Non esitare o indugiare in scuse. Prendi e vai. Sarai felice di averlo fatto.
LīlīthLīlīth added a quotation
Ti sbagli se credi che la gioia derivi soltanto o principalmente dalle relazioni umane. [..] Non dobbiamo che trovare il coraggio di rivoltarci contro lo stile di vita abituale e buttarci in un'esistenza non convenzionale. [...] L'unica persona con cui combatti è te stesso e la tua testardaggine a non lanciarti in nuove esperienze. [..] Vedrai cose, conoscerai gente e ti insegneranno molto. [..] Non esitare o indugiare in scuse. Prendi e vai. Sarai felice di averlo fatto.
LīlīthLīlīth added a quotation
C'è tanta gente infelice che tuttavia non prende l'iniziativa di cambiare la propria situazione perchè è condizionata dalla sicurezza, dal conformismo, dal tradizionalismo tutte cose che sembrano assicurare la pace dello spirito, ma in realtà per l'animo avventuroso di un uomo non esiste nulla di più devastante di un futuro certo.[...] La gioia di vivere deriva dall'incontro con nuove esperienze, e quindi non esiste gioia più grande dell'avere un orizzonte in continuo cambiamento, del trovarsi ogni giorno sotto un sole nuovo e diverso.
LīlīthLīlīth added a quotation
C'è tanta gente infelice che tuttavia non prende l'iniziativa di cambiare la propria situazione perchè è condizionata dalla sicurezza, dal conformismo, dal tradizionalismo tutte cose che sembrano assicurare la pace dello spirito, ma in realtà per l'animo avventuroso di un uomo non esiste nulla di più devastante di un futuro certo.[...] La gioia di vivere deriva dall'incontro con nuove esperienze, e quindi non esiste gioia più grande dell'avere un orizzonte in continuo cambiamento, del trovarsi ogni giorno sotto un sole nuovo e diverso.
Einmalistkeinmal27Einmalistkeinmal27 added a quotation
I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. 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, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. if you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must loose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think that I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience. You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. (Non sono troppo d’accordo, anzi). God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances. Ron, I really hope that as soon as you can you will get out of Salton City, put a little camper on the back of your pickup, and start seeing some of the great work that God had done here in the American West. You will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely. I hope that the next time I see you, you will be a new man with a vast array of new adventures and experiences behind you. Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad that you did.
Einmalistkeinmal27Einmalistkeinmal27 added a quotation
I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. 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, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. if you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must loose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think that I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience. You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. (Non sono troppo d’accordo, anzi). God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances. Ron, I really hope that as soon as you can you will get out of Salton City, put a little camper on the back of your pickup, and start seeing some of the great work that God had done here in the American West. You will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely. I hope that the next time I see you, you will be a new man with a vast array of new adventures and experiences behind you. Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad that you did.