To most of the seasoned wanderers, traveling is not just a lifestyle but life itself. However, when you ask them to find the reason behind their travel, there is no definitive answer. It is because life itself has no definitive answer, and it takes years or almost whole life to realize the purpose of this existence. One thing is for sure when you choose an itinerant life, or even stay outside of conventional living, you are somehow not happy holding yourself in a conformist existence. As human beings are too insecure in their state of mind, the conventional living is the only viable choice they have to get into a secure cocoon where their emotional, physical, sentimental and societal needs are fulfilled.
Four years ago I saw a movie by chance, and it created a certain dent in my life. The movie focused on a particular tragic protagonist who lived a brief life of 24 years, which inspired people to emulate his life in spite of his tragedy and for some foolishness. The character Christopher Johnson McCandless inspired people greatly not because he did a brave job to survive in Alaska for two months without necessary equipment, but his grit and gumption, and philosophy of life surprised people to a great extent. His traveling or "escape" from the society was a downright rejection of conformity and materialism in order to discover the true meaning of life, experiencing the raw throb of life without a secure boundary. As I mentioned earlier the life inspired many, traveler and non-traveler alike, but he also received plenty of criticism from people who think he was an idiot, arrogant, mentally unbalanced and even possibly suicidal.
|Bus 142 (self-portrait)|
If we look into the past of Chris, it is evident he was brilliant in many ways, though lots of eccentricities in his character. He graduated from Emory University in 1990 and threw all titles and honors he received because he thought all those things were just ‘things’, immaterial and irrelevant to his own life. He had pursued a living of continuous travel because every day he wanted to ‘see a different sun’. He was an exceptional cross country runner and urged his teammates to run as if "they running against the forces of darkness." His room signified best of spartan living with milk trays as tools, a table, a chair and small cot. His talks and philosophies mostly went top of every students and his friends, but somehow they all respected him. Shortly after graduation, he donated the saved money from his education fund to Oxfam and just kept the change to himself. Later on he burnt those change also and assumed the name Alexander Supertramp. He never talked about his family but it was evident certain occurrence in its family life created a disillusion about the material life.
However, after watching the movie most of the people could possibly infer that Chris mental state and his traveling gusto came from the backdoor of his own dishearten experience about his family bonding. To me it is not the exact truth because a tragedy can shook one’s individuality but in case of Chris he was radical in his thoughts from the very beginning. It is not just he discovered the truth of material futility after he discovered the turmoil in the family.
Although his traveling seemed to be a random activity, on the bottom, the current of spiritualism was palpable through his journal, various acquaintances he met along his journey and his staunch idealism, which he never forgot in spite of his naturally free state of mind. There is something striking in his life, and very similar to lives of monks and philosophers, which signifies that he had a purpose, not an aimless wanderer by any chance.
Chris traveled a lot in the US by various means; hiking, canoeing, train, hitchhiking and walking. He himself believed one must travel with that much possession that one could carry comfortably on his/her shoulders. Interestingly his most prized possessions were his books that he idolized. His dream was Alaskan adventure, not just for adventure but he wanted to know the truth behind the monotonous life of daily existence of ordinary humans.
Chris actions are debatable because many feel he was a great man but stupid. Many also think he was a sage because of his staunch idealism and lifestyle. One thing is for sure he was courageous and had a great spirit for adventure. His life is not just an inspiration for travelers but Bus 142 has a deep impact on the lives of people who lead a conventional life and may not have the courage to take a radical step to change their life of conformity and conservatism.
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