I saw Into the Wild last night, and cried a little through-out. It started with the Sharon Olds poem he reads to his sister at college graduation – a poem I loved before this movie and which feels so appropriate today, not in my relationship to my parents but in the leaps of faith one must make to create the future.
But more significantly, I see many of my college friends in Chris McCandless, including one who died by suicide shortly after I left California. It’s the hunt for truth, the love of people and the simultaneous rejection of society. It’s finding something in nature that you can’t find anywhere else. It’s the urge to be alone, to purify.
Truth be told, I see a little of myself in Chris McCandless – not in the specifics of what he did, but in the extremity, the drive to figure things out. The movie rekindled an old idea to drive cross-country by myself one of these summers, taking it slow, learning to be alone, meeting who I meet, reading a lot, writing, taking pictures, seeing this incredible continent on which we live. It’s an idea as prosaic as it is wonderful – I know others who have done it, or similar, no big deal, almost a rite of passage if you were an eastern kid attending a western college. But to read Walt Whitman and Edward Abbey and Thoreau and Kerouac and Muir and be in those places… well, that’s the wonderful part.
Anyway, the urge to be alone and somehow understand things more deeply through solitude is strong in me right now. Yet another part of me yearns to find a true connection to someone else. And every little thing that happens – a conversation that I’m not part of, seeing pictures from which I know I’ve been edited out – is just another source of hurt. It’s like the knob controlling sensitivity has been snapped off completely.
I’m missing the robotics kick-off today, which is annoying, but there was no way I was getting to Brooklyn by 9 am this morning and still hanging on to a scrap of sanity. I wanted to meet other coaches, though, and they had some workshops of interest, and I wanted to see the field set-up completed so I’d know what we have to build. But there are other ways.