Reading has always been a passion of mine. Okay not always, but definitely for the better part of my life you can find my nose in a book. I've read hundreds of books, tens of series and I usually keep with the trends before they happen... yes, I am a book hipster.
Not really, I made up that term, but I definitely want the rights to it if it becomes popular. The last full book I read this year was Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. Into the Wild is about a man, Christopher McCandless, whom after graduating college in the 1990s decides to give up all his worldly possessions and hit the road. By hitting the road, I mean heading out west and living off the land, penniless. Jon Krakauer encapsulates this true story by narrating from more of a reporter style with various interviews of the people McCandless met on his journey throughout the western United States in places like South Dakota, Nevada and California. Every person he meets and gets to know, he ends up touching their life in some way.
When reading this, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had remembered a good friend of mine from high school reading it and saying it was good, but she did not have the time to finish reading it, so when I saw it at Goodwill for $1.25, I could not prepare myself for how much it would effect my life. It took awhile to read the 207-page novel, but not because I am a slow reader (I actually read rather quickly and could have read the whole thing in a day if I really tried) but because I savored every word I read. I learned something new about myself, and went on a journey of self-discovery with every chapter I read.
I read it outside and enjoyed the nature that McCandless must have felt on his two-year journey. I felt the cool wind on my face and enjoyed gorgeous views as I flipped through the pages. I think that helped with how much it affected my thought processes about it. I could look up and see something as equally gorgeous as what I was reading.
My favorite part of the book happens to fall in the beginning stretch on page 56 and 57 of my copy where Krakauer includes a letter that McCandless had written to an elderly gentleman he had met named Ron. I am going to screw it all and include an excerpt that is my favorite:
"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 a security, conformity and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one piece 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 out 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."
This book is full of profound things like this. I have always been a sucker for a good quote, and the many in this book show me how amazing life can be if I just let it be. (Rant status: begin rant here) I have always been afraid of succumbing to a life of routine where every day seems to drip by like an IV at a hospital and one day I wake up and I am 65 and don't know where the time went. I don't want to live my life accustomed to the same thing. I want to live my life for the moment, for those unconventional things that happen that are glorious, spontaneous and beautiful.
This book showed me how to not only see the beauty in not knowing, but the beauty in the world around me. It taught me how just one decision can make every day different, every day in the endless count of new horizons a new present to unwrap, to explore and make amazing. Every day has the right to be an adventure, you just got to let it happen. We only have so many days on earth, and I think that you mind as well make them count. Every. Single. One. So you want to travel? Get in the car and go. Why wait? You are always going to give yourself reasons not to do something and one day it's going to be too late.
Live while you have the will power to live. There's no better time to do so. I think the most important lesson this book has taught me is to not wait to be happy. People always say once they suffer this much, they can get a job and finally be happy. Once they have this one kid, one college, one other obstacle to get over until they can finally be happy. That's not the case. There's no reason not to be happy. Make yourself happy. Go out there and be happy.
That's my lesson is to not wait. The spontaneous and the stupid ideas you've always wanted to do are something you should do. Jump into the fountains, climb on the roof, feel infinite. Don't make excuses for yourself, make memories for yourself. Nothing ever happens when you sit in your room and hide from the world. There's so much more to life than just that. Trust me, so much more.
I've been there. I've ben that person in the room. I've been the one that said there's no adventure to be had. It took this book and a best friend to make me see differently.
(Rant status: over)
Into the Wild has given me the courage to see that I don't need to wait to be happy. I can be happy. I don't need to wait to achieve all these things. This is what has made my first year of college better.
In conclusion, I beg all of you people in college to read this book. Push through the 203 pages and maybe find a part of yourself you did not know that you had. Find that extra push you needed. Lastly, go out there and do life. It's not that hard once you taste the fresh air and it doesn't cost a penny.