Into the Wild

Search for happiness

Some movies change you. Into the Wild, is one of them. It’s not yet changed me, but it’s got me thinking a lot. The movie is about Chris McCandless who grew up in Annandale, Virginia, and died at age 24 in a wilderness area of the state of Alaska. After graduating in 1990 from Emory University, McCandless ceased communicating with his family, gave away his savings of $24,000 to OXFAM (charity) and began traveling, later abandoning his car and burning all the money in his wallet.

McCandless headed down the snow-covered trail to Alaska with only ten pounds of rice, a .22 caliber rifle, a camera, several boxes of rifle rounds, some camping gear, and a small selection of literature—including a field guide to the region’s edible plants. He took no map or compass. He died sometime in August, and his decomposed body was found in early September by moose hunters.

Alexander, as he called himself was in search of happiness. There were too many things that were happening at his home. His dad had married twice and Alex had discovered that he was the bastard kid. He completed his education like the good boy; his father wanted him to be.

But soon after his convocation, he decided to leave home in search of true happiness and just to get away from all that was going on at home. He had decided that he had had enough of it. He did not want any education and he did not want his parents to be around him. He could very well do on his own, and be perfectly happy.

I just completed my post graduation, and like Alexander I wonder what is true happiness and how can I achieve it. The pursuit of happiness is endless because no matter what, one can never be truly happy. Like If I am happy with a bike now, I’d want a car later. If I earn 10 lakh now, I’d want more later. There is no limit to happiness, and one cannot define it.

At times, I wonder why we are doing what we are. Do we need to? Life begins each day, waking up, washing up and going to work. Who said we need to work? If we break all social shackles, do we need to make money for anyone? Do we need the money for ourselves? Can’t we just be?

I am pretty sure, come what may one can decently live alone without anyone around in a non-descript place. But then again, what Alexander did, did seem like happiness to him. He enjoyed the 2 years. But during the last few weeks, he had been losing it. It had been more than 9 weeks since he spoke to anyone. By the end of it, he was more lonely than hungry. It’s an irony that just before Alexander died, he mentioned in his diary – “Happiness is when shared”. That’s when he realized happiness is best when you are with people, and what he derogatorily called – society.
I am the kind of person who is perfectly happy alone. There is happiness in being alone, but only for a while. One should learn to enjoy the moments. People all the time around you, can be a pain. It leaves no time for introspection and just being – YOU.

Into the Wild

Maybe one day, I will just take off and head out on my bike into the wilderness. But I will do it with

  • some money in my pocket,
  • a few good books to read,
  • a Swiss knife,
  • a lighter and fluid
  • cigarettes
  • a few pair of clothes
  • a small pistol and some rounds
  • a camera and batteries.
  • NO CELL PHONE

And for people who are reading this, please do learn to spend some alone just with yourself. There is no reason why anyone should call you a loner. It’s not that. One needs to unwind, and its best done alone. Not at parties, not with friends. Just alone.

This is a song from the movie. Long Nights, by Eddie Vedder.

Have no fear
For when I’m alone
I’ll be better off than I was before

I’ve got this light
I’ll be around to grow
Who I was before
I cannot recall

Long nights allow me to feel…
I’m falling…I am falling
The lights go out
Let me feel
I’m falling
I am falling safely to the ground
Ah…

I’ll take this soul that’s inside me now
Like a brand new friend
I’ll forever know

I’ve got this light
And the will to show
I will always be better than before

Long nights allow me to feel…
I’m falling…I am falling
The lights go out
Let me feel
I’m falling
I am falling safely to the ground

22 Responses

  1. Rajan Cuzn Says:

    Glad to see you think big. Everyone gets sucked into the world as we know with our eyes open. Close ur eyes and open your mind and you can see a lot more. Detaching away from emotional ties to people is the toughest part of everything I am guessing.

  2. Ps Says:

    Really nice post.It reminds me of something I often say to a friend og mine “I need my solitude.”It is very important to me.I think all of us need to listen to that inner voice.’Detached attachment’ is what all of us should strive to achieve as everything that begins (every single thing) does come to an end.
    Have written lots about pursuing happiness-and I am amazed that for someone so young you have disscected it beautifully.

  3. vinni Says:

    Ps: you know preeti, a compliment coming from you does mean a lot to me! thanks!
    my Cuz: we have always thought big haven’t we? it runs in the family!

  4. Krishna Aradhi Says:

    Lovely post!The trick is to be satisfied with what you have. Everything else will then fall into place. That’s something the current ‘Gen-X’ needs to learn.

  5. Enigma Says:

    U hav presented the topic well…ya even i used to feel that i should go somewhere in search of happiness and solitude was something i badly need most of the time and am happy being alone….

    But one things u hav asked is - “Who said we need to work? If we break all social shackles, do we need to make money for anyone? Do we need the money for ourselves? Can’t we just be?”…well its something all of us would love to do na…but do u think we can live in todays world like that???dont we need the money to buy food atleast??specially coz kindness and such feeling seem to be disappearing from most humans…

  6. vinni Says:

    you know enigma, there are times when u just want to let go off everything and leave it to chance. this is something we all can do with a dose of craziness and some adventure.

  7. angana Says:

    I so much agree with you..happiness cannot be defined.. buying a car or a bike gives u momentary joy..but not happiness..i think when we feel contented with ourselves, our acievements, we feel happy..it is a more intense feeling, which is generally “only felt” and not “expressed”!! so well written, vineet :)

  8. Ketan Says:

    It takes a lot of courage to leave everything behind, and just walk on….

    Very well written post.

  9. Sachin Says:

    One day when i leave……….i will make sure to take all the stuff u mention above………. good post……….. sahi bola……it is important to spend some time alone……..thinking and stuff…….it helps……..

  10. Tito Says:

    Rousseau, a famous political philosopher and thinker of the 18th Century, once rightly said. ” Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.”

    Had the chains been broken, the pursuit of happiness would have been with less hurdles and the free souls could have attained unprecedented heights.

    Not now, perhaps ten years down the line, when the liabilities are taken care of, I wish to go for something unrestrained like this, though it would be remorseful to come back again and be in chains. :)

  11. Svetlana Says:

    McCandless was either emotionally very strong or was not bounded by dogmas, social norms etc.

    Its not easy to leave behind everything and go. I absolutely concur with Ketan.

    He led his life in all those two years of hiatus from the social world.

    We all have certain ambitions, plans, objectives, aims in life.

    McCandless wasn’t an exception. He chased his dreams, he pursued his happiness and he successfully attained it.

    To all the free souls, to all the open thinkers, I extend my best wishes for their pursuit and consequent attainment.

    ~Amen

  12. Vaishnavi Says:

    “I am the kind of person who is perfectly happy alone. There is happiness in being alone, but only for a while. One should learn to enjoy the moments. People all the time around you, can be a pain. It leaves no time for introspection and just being – YOU.”

    I couldn’t agree more with you .

  13. Poornima Says:

    good post vinni!

    Henry Thoreau did a bit of this going into the wilderness and being alone business and has a lot to say about this. u may like to read his works. There is also this trend of going to ashrams where people remain silent for days together, eat natural food,etc. I personally feel I can find my solitude wherever I am. Perhaps its the way I have conditioned myself and others around me that when I decide to shut myself off people who know me, just let me be. While a natural setting will greatly enhance the effect of solitude, shutting my eyes and ears and simply keeping silent works too!

    On a lighter note, won’t u miss chicken tikka?

  14. Raj Says:

    loneliness is impossible ..you are alone because you want to be with someone .

  15. Ritu Says:

    What a post!!! Hats off to you…

    I am amazed at the clarity with which you have pieced together the entire enigma of lonliness vs being with ppl… Really cool. Suppose at this young age you are more of an introspecter than many…

    Money and material things dominate those starting life as young go-getters…and your thoughts are so out of ordinary.

    Good going…

  16. meghnak Says:

    Hi Vinni,
    Haven’t seen this movie yet but after what you’ve said, think I won’t miss it! Such inspirational posts are great to read :P

  17. Susan Says:

    Interesting movie and interesting story… Maybe I watch it when I have the opportunity. You know, I think, that firstly you have to know who you are and only than you can find your happiness. You need to accept your self… Like that thing about the living in a community and sharing your happiness. Humans are animals, which live in community and for surviving we need others. This is how we were made.

  18. Krishna Aradhi Says:

    You have been tagged!

  19. vinni Says:

    there is a difference between solitude and loneliness raj. loneliness happens and solitude is choice. there is a thin line. one is painful, the other is bliss.

  20. vinni Says:

    ritu!
    thanks a lot for the wonderful words, you seem to have really understood the thhts behind this post!

  21. Archana Says:

    Some movies change you. Into the Wild, is one of them. It’s not yet changed me, but it’s got me thinking a lot.

    Well this post had me thinking as well.. so Arch liked the post as much as vinni liked the movie.. :)

  22. patrick Says:

    McCandless’s story is tragic, but then so many people have benefited from hearing it… a couple of years of hitchhiking and camping made a story that now challenges thousands (millions?) of people to reexamine their lives

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