The Story of Chris McCandless
Why McCandless' rejects his conventional life to experience life in the wilderness?
Christopher McCandless was born on the 12th of February, 1968, in El Segundo, California. He was born to Walt McCandless and Wilhelmina Johnson (also known as Billie), and has a young sister, Carine McCandless.
Chrisa father also had children from his first marriage. In fact, his father was still married to his first wife at the time of his and Carine's birth. [Many years later, when Chris later got to know about it, he became infuriated to the point where he felt that his entire life had been a lie.]
When Chris was eight years old, Walt was offered a job in NASA, so the McCandless family moved to Virginia. His mother started working as a secretary at Hughes Aircraft. Later, his parents started their own consultancy firm, and they were pretty successful in their venture. However, working and living together started to affect their marriage, and resulted in arguments. That took a huge toll on the life of Chris and Carine, and that led them to distance themselves from their parents.
But that wasn't all. Chris was also physically abused by his father. His childhood was marked with domestic violence. His sister has stated in her book - The Wild Truth - the impact the violence left on Chris's mind.
In school, Chris was a pretty good student in both - academics and sports. On average, he used to get A grades. He also led the runners of his school's team Cross country team. He would take his team to places where one could easily get lost, and would need to use their intelligence to come out of it.
He was also quite willed and stubborn. An instance of his stubbornness was when he received an F in a subject because he refrained to write an article in the particular manner that the teacher had taught them.
In 1986, he graduated from High School, and went out on a solo adventure for the entire summer before college. He was untidy compared to his tidy roommate in the hostel. The teachers looked at his roommate with high expectations because of his good personality, and looked down at Chris because of his poor personality.
Several weeks later, his roommate dropped out of college. Chris got excellent grades that semester. He graduated in 1990 from Emory University.
After graduation, unlike his peers,he didn't apply for any job. When confronted, he said that career is a 20th century invention, and he does not want one.
Chris believed that human life was God's gift. He truly treasured it. He wanted to experience life to its fullest.
On the 15th of May, 1990, he wrote a cheque on $24000 (money he had received from his education fund), and donated it to Oxfam.
Soon after that, he left his house without informing anyone, and began his Great Alaskan Adventure. He borrowed the name - Alexander Supertramp from a book, burnt whatever little cash he had, and had to abandon his car when it was caught in a flood. In the initial stage of his journey, when someone asked him about his family, he replied that he did not have any family anymore.
He travelled through different states of the U.S. by train, hitchhiking, kayaking, and on foot. He had no map, limited stuffs, and just one agenda - to reach Alaska, and experience the adventure of his life.
The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure.
Throughout his journey, he worked for quite a few people. Some of them asked him to stay a little longer as it was too cold in Alaska at that period in time. Some would provide him with supplies that he would need to survive in the bitter Alaskan cold. But as mentioned earlier, he was stubborn. He would only take things if thought he would really need it. One old man living just by himself wanted to adopt him.
On the 28th of April, in 1992, he reached his desired destination - Fairbanks in Alaska.
Happiness is only real when shared.
He found an abandoned bus somewhere on the Stampede Trail. The bus was his home for almost four months, until he died.
Throughout the four months, he kept a journal, and would often take a picture of himself (not selfies). His final picture of himself was him standing in the wilderness whilst holding a farewell note in his left hand, and bidding goodbye from his right a smiling.
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.
He died of starvation after mistakenly eating seeds of a poisonous plant - wild potato. His mass was merely 30 kgs. But he didn't commit suicide.
His sister blame their parents for Chrisa disappearance, but not for his death.
Following is Christopher McCandlessa journal Entries from his Great Alaskan Adventure -
Day 2: Fall through the ice day.
Day 4: Magic bus day.
Day 9: Weakness.
Day 10: Snowed in.
Day 13: Porcupine day...
Day 14: Misery.
Day 31: Move bus. Grey bird. Ash bird. Squirrel. Gourmet duck!
Day 43: MOOSE!
Day 48: Maggots already. Smoking appears ineffective. Don't know, looks like disaster. I now wish I had never shot the moose. One of the greatest tragedies of my life.
Day 68: Beaver Dam. Disaster.
Day 69: Rained in, river looks impossible. Lonely, Scared.
Day 74: Terminal man. Faster.
Day 78: Missed wolf. Ate potato seeds and many berries coming.
Day 94: Woodpecker. Fog. Extremely weak. Fault of potato seed. Much trouble just to stand up. Starving. Great jeopardy.
Day 100: Death looms as serious threat, too weak to walk out, have literally become trapped in wildano game.
Day 101-103: [No written entries, just the days listed.]
Day 104: Missed bear!
Day 105: Five squirrel. Caribou.
Day 107: Beautiful berries.
Day 108-113: [Days were marked only with slashes.]
Christopher was the spark that ignited the fire in people's heart to fulfil their own dreams.
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 conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit.
I now walk into the wild.
Photo Credit: blogrope.com filmaffinity.com ticweb.it
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