Marilia and I recently watched the movie “Into the Wild,” which is a film based on a book of the same name. It follows Christopher McCandless as he leaves a life of wealth and luxury, literally donating all of his belongings and foregoing a prestigious and lucrative career, and embarks on a journey into the wilderness of Alaska.
The film creates a really romantic appeal of just dropping everything and doing exactly what Christopher did. I think he sums this up best:
The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences. And hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon. For each day to have a new and different sun.Christopher McCandless
One of the emotional moments in the film is at the end when Christopher writes “Happiness is only real when shared” while in tears and all alone. He dies alone after eating a poisonous fungus but he is surrounded by the most beautiful scenery one could imagine. I thought about this a lot, especially as Marilia and I start planning out our upcoming years of increasing amounts of camping and overland adventures, as well as the hopefully impending long journey on the Pan Am filled with solitude. How should we reconcile what we anticipate to be an amazing journey with this immense sadness Christopher felt in his last moments on Earth?
I reflected back to 2007 when I bicycled across a part of Europe and took the train across other parts. When was I most happy? Undoubtedly it was when I was surrounded by others that I could learn from both culturally and intellectually. Drinking beers on the side of the Elbe river after a night out in Dresden with foreign exchange students from across the world, including 2 of my best friends (one of which cycled with me for some time). Going to the kitschy Alton Towers amusement park with a bunch of fun loving Brits from Sheffield. Bicycling around Amsterdam with some Fins we met at our campsite. The happiest moments were spent with others and amplified by the extreme beauty I observed along with the sense of personal accomplishment I felt. But mostly the time with others.
Ultimately, “Into the Wild” shows that solitary happiness is effectively an oxymoron. And in that, I am thankful that my wife, Marilia, is as excited for this adventure as I am, and that our dog Roxy is just happy to be with us always.
And that brings us to this blog post. I’ve often struggled with what is the point of sharing experiences with others? Is it bragging? Does anyone actually care? But much like the affable grandparent who can’t stop sharing their memories of The Great War, those experiences only actually mean something when they are shared with others. And thus we keep hearing about The Great War and ensure it is entered into our shared collective experience as world citizens, and hopefully Marilia and I can share some cool (and likely mundane too!) experiences that contribute to that shared collective experience via this blog.
I hope that these blog posts prove useful for others as they also consider going into the wilderness, whether for a week or a year.
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