The call of the wild

He lived mostly “off the grid,” giving people a fake name everywhere he went and often getting around by hitchhiking or jumping on freight trains.

His final adventure was to hike out into the Alaskan wilderness with few supplies and “live off the land” for an extended period of time.

Though he did well out there for several months, when he tried to leave he found that he was stranded on the wrong side of a river that he couldn’t cross. In his desire to be cut off from civilization he didn’t bring a map and instead of finding rescue, he tragically starved to death.

Ever since I read the book when I was 16, I have been captivated by his story.

Similarly to Moran, McCandless worked odd jobs to make money and often enjoyed extended periods of camping out and being alone in the nature.

Both also had a strong desire to drop everything and go out west to be in the beautiful wilderness and away from the trappings of modern society.

However, Moran’s story is one of commitment and responsibility. He has lived on the same land for 35 years where he pays taxes and leads a law-abiding life.

McCandless was bold and uncompromising in his desire to live a nomadic life and do things his own way. He was on the fringes of society and often disobeyed the law.

Also, unlike Moran who kept in touch with family and friends, McCandless was estranged from his family for more than two years. Though he made friends with people he met on the road, it was unfair of him to put his parents though such agony with little explanation why.

I don’t think I could ever commit to living so far from the modern conveniences and company of others that we all take for granted, but the idea of it is appealing. Life would be simpler and the lifestyle would be liberating.

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