Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Into the Wild" or "Lost and Found"

Haven't written in am embarrassingly long time. Oh well, let's move on. Just finished watching "Into the Wild" and all I can say "wow...ouch...wow...ouch...wow...ouch"

I closed out the viewing with a sob-fest.

For those who don't know, "Into the Wild" is movie Sean Penn directed based on the life of Chris McCandless, a guy who graduated near the top of his class at Emery University, was accepted to an Ivy League Law school, then gave all his savings away to charity, burned his identification and dropped out of society to engulf himself in nature.

He was turned off my dishonesty in his family, his father's illegitimate marriage to his mother (his father was still married to another woman, still had another son with her and denied him after Chris was born. There was violence in his home, control, and to call it dysfunctional would be an understatement, plus, I loathe that term now, it is so hackneyed.

He meets a lot of good people on his travels, and lives through some amazing adventures before eventually dying at the age of 24 from starvation in Alaska. Chris misidentified some roots as edible that were poisonous, weakened himself, and became unable to hunt for food. He was found dead in the bus he fashioned into his home by moose hunters two weeks after he passed away.

Chris, who until nearing death, forsook his birth name, re-naming himself "Alexander Supertramp", left behind journals of his thoughts and adventures. Before he died, he wrote and left for whoever might find him:

"I have had a happy life
and thank the Lord.
May God bless all!!"

This movie hit me in the gut, doubled me over, more than it might hit some because I know what it is like to be a lost young man. He couldn't reconcile life. The kid was a genius, but he could not grasp man's inhumanity to man, man's obsession with "things". I'm sure there was a good measure of self-loathing woven in based on his upbringing, and he did everything he could to distance himself from who he was and where he came from. He basically disowned his family, though he always loved his sister.

The main difference between me and Chris McCandless is my family. There were many times when it was so dark in my soul that death called out to me promising rest, and quietness of mind. It sounded better and better to me...except for my family and friends. Chris created a family of travelers and people he met on the road, but he never let them get too close. His fear of relationships, initiated years earlier when his family turned out to be a lie, spawned an insulation against letting anyone get too close, too deep.

Shortly before he died, Chris reflected on his short, though full life, and wrote in between the lines of what I believe was a Tolstoy novel, "HAPPINESS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED".

Chris was lost, but not really. I think he found all the Truth he was capable of finding in this life in his quiet moments near the end of his life. In living the way he did, he impacted millions of people, through the book about his life, and this film. I've always thought that life is very short, whether it is 20 years or 100, it is a grain of sand in the endless flow of time. It's really more important to live boldly, to live well, to love all you can than it is to merely exist for what is really a pittance of time anyway., but seems "long" to us here on this plane.

Chris lived a day at a time, sapped everything he could out his short life, but he made me think of all the other lost souls out there, struggling through life, often dying a day at a time, an hour at a time, a minute at a time. What a sad way to spend the greatest gift of all- life.

Lost.

The brutal combination of excruciating misery woven together with a bleak outlook that things could ever possibly change.

Lost.

Hopeless.

Keeping it together on the outside because that's all you think there is- keeping it together... the notion that things could ever actually BE okay is a fantasy. This was my mindset for years.

But I have a great family. I have great friends. They loved me enough to keep me afloat long enough to be found. Even though I was uncomfortable with being loved and still am to a degree, they, like God, just kept the faucet running, flowing so my own little pond didn't get totally stagnated and kill me.

Then one day, I awoke from a 30 year slumber. Slowly at first, wiping the sleepy-sandy things from my eyes, stumbling awkwardly out of an insulated life-coma. I staggered, but I staggered with purpose, tottering toward a still, small voice, and one day, not only was I not lost, but I was loaded with experience on how to find others.

"All who wander" may not be lost, but a helluva lot of us are.

Now it just looks like I am wandering to the untrained eye, but believe it or not... I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going.

I think a lot of us are afraid of what we'd find out if we ever got home. Wouldn't God, or whatever you understand to be god, be pissed that we were away for so long, and doing only God knows what? Isn't it just safer and sensible to stay lost at some point?

This makes me think of the parable of the Merciful Father from Luke. Whether or not you are feeling the Jesus, this is a beautiful story about the nature of God. Long story short, son gets half inheritance, takes off, blows said inheritance, and is destitute. He returns home, hoping his father will let him sleep in the barn with the servants and eat scraps, but all he does is turn onto the road home, and his father, who had been watching and waiting, praying and hping for the return of his son, RUNS down the road to meet him. the son walks shamefaced, a prepared apology in the wings to be recited, but he is muffled and his pleas for forgiveness muffled by the father literally mauling him, hugging and kissing him, throwing robes on the kid, new sandals on him, ordering servants around to throw a party.

This is the nature of God. He isn't interested in retribution, payment, score-keeping, or inflicting more shame via wagging fingers and furrowed brows. he simply loves the heck out of us. he is simply glad we are home.

I prepare my apologia for my life and failures, and God is too busy arranging decorations for my celebration to listen to it.

Geez, God, I really let ya down, I didn't do this, I missed that, I I I I I...

Meanwhile, He/She is pumped up that I showed up at all, that I remembered Him at all. he is riveted by the good I did do, which usually far outweighs the stuff I screwed up. More than that, he is celebrating me for exactly who I am at that very instant. the party is NOW, not tomorrow or in 10 years when I get to some arbitrary point of self-assumed, man made "success".

Today is the success. I am alive, well, healthy, happy, participating in life.

I imagine I can say one of two things when I die and meet my Maker, if that actually happens.

"I'm sorry."

or

"Thank You."

It is my hope that I say the latter. I don't want to bring down God's enthusiasm with any neg-head downer nonsense.

I think Chris McCandless got all that, but I think he got the part about "happiness only being real when shared" just a little too late. Because of him, maybe a few people will get it in this lifetime.

The best part about being lost is that when you find your way, you can others find theirs.

4 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

A good read Korte. I never liked "Into the Wild" though. I felt that it celebrated stupidity instead of art. Yeah, he broke away from society, and yeah, it's sad that he paid the ultimate price, but there are better ways to do what he did. Learning how to survive out there would have been the first thing he could have done to prolong his existence. In the end, what is the point? There is no point. He left nothing behind except notes on futility, and I'm pretty sure we're all familiar with what that looks like already. Actually surviving would have been a much, much better story.

To me, you're a bigger hero than he should ever be.

12:35 PM  
Blogger 嘉琬嘉琬 said...

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2:42 AM  
Blogger 惠桂惠桂 said...

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5:39 AM  
Blogger Korte said...

Thanks Greg. I didn't see it as futile. A lot of people live 8o years ad don't "get it"... sure, it took him to his death, but really, whether a life is 20 years or 70... what's the difference in the scheme of things as long as we learn what we came here to learn. In the scheme of things, even a guy wo lives to 200 years old is alive only a speck of time.

3:59 PM  

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