life in general

surviving the facile life…

This weekend raised a lot of questions in my head and made me extremely conscious of something we take for granted- that life is really an uncompromising journey, where the human mind seeks out and revels in adversity. The reason for this soul searching was the two hours (or a little more!) I spent watching “Into the Wild”- a movie where there is plenty of sorrow, and unbelievable joy- all at the same time. It was disturbing, provocative and mind numbingly fresh, to say the least. Suggested to me while taking walk in the snow two weeks ago by someone I look upto, I enjoyed experiencing the exuberance and innocence of Christopher Johnson McCandless, the young adventurer whose footloose life and a senseless death raised a lot of questions in my mind but also reinforced my love for open spaces, fresh air and bright sunshine. The film is Sean Penn’s adaptation of the nonfiction bestseller by Jon Krakauer, that goes by the same title. The protagonist in the film is troubled and impulsive but also brave and industrious, and brutally honest. I loved the way the films juxtaposes the notes he writes to his friends, parts of which are scrawled across the screen in bright yellow capital letters, with the narrative by his younger sister. If I didn’t like travelling enough, my wanderlust was ignited again by the gorgeous capturing of the North American landscape – the ancient woodlands of the Pacific Northwest, the canyons and deserts farther south, the wheat fields of the northern prairies. And I seem to share the same mystical reverence that Mr. McCandless has for Alaska after seeing the drop dead beauty, which I learnt was captured on camera to a large extent by Sean Penn himself. The movie, sometimes in extreme, makes a case for the average Joe to not lose sight of the idealism in the course of materialistic pursuits in today’s world. On a different level, it also appealed deeply to my maternal instincts, on how children react to seemingly innocuous domestic strife and unsettling environments. It also asks the question that I think is becoming so relevant- “What is he really running away from??” Is having things too easy in life making people seek out opportunities that will test their survival?? Is Chris craving for risk to shake off the urban numbness he has been exposed to?? This question hasn’t ever been so relevant as it is today…. While Chris expresses “If you want something in life, reach out and grab it,” the movie’s theme, thankfully, is not so simple. The movie makes no attempt to defend the protagonist for his weaknesses, or strengths for that matter. Even while he is idealistic and fiercely seeking soltitude (he seems to almost feel lost without the company of books, even when he is in a cabaret bar!), he is also extremely social with an incredible gift of befriending all those he comes across during his travels. This seems paradoxical to what he says to one of his friends against seeking happiness in human relationships. “Into the Wild” is a movie about the desire for freedom that in a lot of ways is freedom itself, and shows how solitary we all really are! What is special about this movie is that it glorifies the experience and not the end. Which brings us back to the point- if pushing oneself to the survival limit is what the essence of being human is all about, then we need to consciously choose our boundaries wisely- and enjoy the experience!!!

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