11 November 2008

Into the Wild

A few months ago I read "Into the Wild," by Jon Krakauer, and it affected me deeply. So deeply, in fact, that I couldn't imagine ever wanting to watch the movie by the same name.

Yet, when I saw it in the store I felt compelled to put it in my cart. It is not a movie I want my son to see now or, well, ever. (Okay, when he is a grown man he can watch it. But not before.)

But it's such a beautiful odyssey. A beautiful, tragic, depressing, uplifting, incredibly moving story. It could have easily been about me, or about any one of us.

When I was the same age as Alexander McCandless, I remember feeling everything intensely too. I wanted the moon, and I thought I could have it. I couldn't understand how people could settle for so much; for spouses they didn't love passionately; for jobs they didn't love at all; for small lives when they'd imagined greatness.

Now I think I get it. I think I understand how I might have made a valuable contribution to the world, instead of only looking out for myself*. But it's too late for me. Now
my only valuable contribution is likely to be my beautiful son, so I'm determined to raise him well. I hope I'm up to the challenge.

I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.

*In my defense, there was a time when I wasn't sure I could even look out for myself. So by learning how to do so, I felt like I was relieving government (and my parents, or my fellow taxpayers) of the burden.

*Ironically, if my company -- which has been described as "too big to fail" -- goes into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, I might finally get the opportunity to see Alaska, go back to school, become a teacher, whatever. Because once I lose everything, I'll have nothing to lose.

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