Don’t sit idly by.

| April 4, 2010
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” -Goethe

I’m taking a class on creative nonfiction…not exactly my cup of tea, but I’ve come to appreciate such works. One of the assigned readings was Into the Wild by John Krakauer. My finance has seen the movie, though, so ever since the day I told him about this assignment, he has been tormenting me with a “I know something you don’t know” mentality. I was really excited to begin reading this book, because I liked Into Thin Air (by the same author) so much–and I am happy to report that Krakauer did not disappoint. Maybe it’s his journalistic style or maybe it’s his not-afraid-to-piss-people-off attitude, but something draws me to his writing.

In this book, Krakauer’s ability to leave himself, the writer, in the background allows me, the reader, to better connect with the characters. Only at chapter 6, I already feel a strong connection–both positive and negative–to Chris McCandless. In the Author’s Notes, Krakauer admits “I won’t claim to be an impartial biographer,” and likewise, I won’t claim to be an impartial reader. No, I’m not partial because I had a history/background/understanding of this tragedy; notorious for not paying attention to the news, I was oblivious to this tragedy before reading the book.
Instead, I, like Krakauer, am partial because I can so easily relate to Chris. I’m not about to burn my cash and hitchhike to Alaska, but I do understand the obsession with seeking answers to higher truths–truths we may never find. Even more so, I relate to his passion for activism, for not sitting idly by as the world passes around me. I found an inspirational quality in Chris’s letter to Ron Franz, where he urges Franz to make drastic changes in his life:
You are wrong if you think Joy eminates only or principally from human relationships. 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 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. 
I applaud anyone who can take something they are passionate about, whatever it may be, and apply it to their lives. Chris was obviously an effective motivator, because Franz took this advice to heart. I, like Chris, may be an idealist, a romanticist, an activist, but I’ve come to terms with being labeled these things, and I think he had, too.

PS-If you haven’t read the book/seen the movie…you should. :-)

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