I’m home sick today for the second time this week. I probably would’ve been out for three days if I didn’t force myself to go into work yesterday. See, I’m taking this ergonomics assessment class and if I were to miss a session I’d have to start all over again, and this is definitely not something you want to repeat. It is utterly boring. But I’m back home today, sitting here at my computer, listening to Meatloaf, blogging the random thoughts that are passing through my ill mind this morning. These are the things you do when you’re sick.
Saw Into the Wild the other day. Interesting movie. First of all, its beautiful to look at. Its shot entirely on location in some of the most striking places in this country; the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Northern California coast and Sierra Nevada, and the Alaskan wilderness. The story is a true one about a just graduated college kid named Christopher McCandless who goes on a two year tramping journey to Alaska. He sees society as an endless wasteland of materialism and hypocrites, not least of whom are his parents. There are some interesting themes at work in this movie that I’ve been thinking about. I’ve had my own cases of itchy feet, wanting to ditch the whole work-a-day thing and striking out on road, though my reasons I don’t exactly share with McCandless. His idea seems to be to escape humanity altogether, though he does meet and befriend people along the way. But as he tells one such stranger, “You don’t need human relationships to be happy, God has placed it all around us.” Of course, the incongruity of that statement lies in the fact that God has also placed people all around us and placed within us a need for human connection, which is one of His greatest gifts to us. If I ever had the opportunity to embark on a great, free-wheeling adventure I wouldn’t feel complete unless I had Jen and Lily by my side.
This brings to mind another theme I saw in the film, though perhaps not one intended by the filmmakers, selfishness. There are absolutely times when “getting away from it all” is necessary. Christ is the perfect example. There were times in the Gospels when He went out in the wilderness to be alone and refreshed. But the purpose of that refreshment was to be better able to serve upon return. McCandless seems to have no other goal than to free himself of his own turbulent past, regardless of the cost to others. No one can choose his parents and the tragedy of his childhood is one I don’t share or envy, but the extremity with which he travels, telling no one and leaving no trace of where he’s going, smacks of selfishness to me. Even his sister with whom he was apparently very close and who shared in the trials at home is left in the dark. I don’t claim that forgiveness is ever easy, especially of parents, because, again, I can’t empathize with McCandless’ home life at all; but I do know that harboring bitterness and anger and running away only leads to more heartache. I think there is a point in the film where McCandless recognizes this and maybe it takes a monumental life shift for some to come to grips with this stuff.
Overall I enjoyed the film and though I may sound like I’m being hard on McCandless, there is a part of me that understands what he did and is envious. Though I think this, like most anything, is best when done in moderation, I suppose its only the immoderate who have the gumption to actually do it. Life is too short to be spent in a cubicle, but its also too short not to forgive.
I think part of the reason some of these themes resonated with me is that I’ve seen some of the same themes at work in an old friend of mine. He’s had more than his share of difficulties in this life, some of his own creation, some not. I’ve done what I can to help him, but I think things have gotten to the point where I have to make the distinction between helping and enabling. It’s not an easy thing to let someone go their own way when you know the outcome almost certainly won’t be good. But there is a point when you can’t do anything more for a person other than pray. If they aren’t willing or able to make the right decisions what else can you really do?
Well, to end this post on a more uplifting note, here’s a video of me singing Lily her favorite song, which by the way I couldn’t be happier about.