helenl 1Helen HeidelMr. DickinsonJunior English12/15/09 Experiences and Dreams: An adventure into reality I don’t know a lot about the world, but in reality, who does? We can read aboutthe experiences of others, and try to envision ourselves as them. But we can’t see whatthey see, taste what they taste, touch what they touch, smell what they smell, or feel whatthey feel. The mind holds bewildering dreams. We are the earth, and our dream is thesun; it warms our skin, it shines through our dusty windows, it lets us see beauty thatgleams in its golden rays. But unfortunately, many of us don’t have the courage to stepoutside the dark house with the dusty windows, and live the dream we only see in oursurreal minds. Some of us let the dream fade into a small flickering light in the back ofour minds. Humans are so conformed in a fast-paced society that they forget to dream, toexperience, and to feel free. Into the Wild reminds us to grasp hold of our dreams,remember the experiences that transformed us into the person we have become, and knowthat we can change. Chris McCandless had the courage to live what he saw so vividly in his fantasies.He had a chance to see the world through his own eyes, to be able to experience itfirsthand. With the courage only one can muster by themselves, Chris McCandless freedhimself from the demands of society. I have not liberated myself the way Chris has; I amtoo sheltered in my own vision of reality to unravel the mystery behind who we reallyare. Yet my experiences are mine only, and that thought frees me from the rest of this
terrifying world. Nobody else will be able to feel horseback riding through the mountainsin Mongolia the way I felt it: with the cool wind whipping through my hair, the sound ofthe rhythmic trot of the horses’ hooves, and the lush green never ending plains,everywhere I looked. I have kept that experience with me forever, because at thatmoment I felt free. At that moment, I saw before my eyes a life so different from thedemands of our society. Though there may be moments in life when we’re far away from civilizationwhere we feel free and life back at home seems so artificial, it is our experiencesaltogether that sculpture who we are. If Chris McCandless was unaware of his parents’scandalous past, and if he didn’t experience the effects of their shattered marriage, wouldhe have risked his life to go into the wild? We begin a blank canvas, and our backgroundpaints the picture. Without past experiences, a person cannot get to where they are. Yet,they can choose to change themselves, and make a new person from who they once were.As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into thesublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with newpower, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.” ChrisMcCandless was looking to make new experiences for himself that would make the darkmemories of his past fade. He didn’t want to be trapped in a history filled with betrayaland anger; he wanted to see how the world could essentially free him, and change him.We are so hesitant about the thought of becoming a new person, because that would meanthat who we are now isn’t as great as who we could be: we could be different, andhumans are afraid of what is different. But Emerson believes we can change and bedifferent, and when we do, we can make peace with ourselves. The greatest gift humans
have is the ability to change; the ability to use our powerful minds to craft a newhierarchy of personal beliefs. When Chris has experienced the wild, he transformed froma man tiresome with the artificialness of society to a man who began to appreciate thecompany of other humans. Before death, Chris wrote was “Happiness only real whenshared,”(189). This proves that at any point in our lives, no matter the circumstance orlocation, we can change our moral beliefs. Dreams exist in every person. Some, like McCandless, follow their dreamswithout fear and risk it all. As Chris wrote, “No longer to be poisoned by civilization heflees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild,” (163). Leaving aconformed civilization behind, it was just Chris and his dream. The amount of courage ittook Chris to leave all he knew and step upon the unknown territory is astounding. Thebelief he had in himself is a power as great as the power of money. He made sense of hislife because he didn’t let the flickering dream die out. Emerson said “Trust thyself: everyheart vibrated to that iron string. Accept the place divine providence has found for you,the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.” Chris did exactly this. Hetrusted in that dream; the dream that lead him to the astounding white Alaskan outdoorsand a dream that left him to die, “at peace, serene as a monk gone to God,” (199). Chrisnever let the artificial society around him stop his greatest fantasies. He freed himself, helived. Perhaps we too have to free ourselves from the world that ties us down. Perhaps weshould step upon unknown territory, and let down our guards to accept somethingdifferent. Perhaps then, we can let our minds go wild and live in our dream. Into the Wild tells us to let ourselves be free. It tells us a story of a man who foundout the meaning to his life by challenging himself and society, and following his dreams.
It urges us to be unafraid of differences. Differences are just a mere adjustment we haveto tackle; we must accept the unusualness of the world. Reality doesn’t seem as real whenwe don’t follow our true beliefs. If we are too afraid to be an individual, truly believe inour own thoughts, then we person have yet to discover the wonders life brings along. Wehave yet to discover the fruitfulness behind this life, and how great it actually is. Realitywill be, in fact, unreal. It will be another thought shaped by other people, it will not beour liberating desires, like Chris’ great Alaskan Odyssey. It will be somebody else’sadventure, and somewhere along the way, we must free ourselves to experience our ownadventure, and paint our own picture.