Monday, April 20
No man ever followed his genius until it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles. If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal, —that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality … The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.
~Thoreau, Life In The Woods
Passage highlighted in one of the books found with Chris McCandless’s remains.
We were supposed to come back to school on March 23rd. We learned on Thursday, March 19th that we would not be coming back. Shortly thereafter, it became clear that we would not be meeting again in 211. We didn’t get a chance to finish up some of the things we started.
Journal: What did you think on that day when you knew for sure we would not go back? What made you feel that way? Have your feelings changed in the time since? If so, how have they changed today?
Tuesday, April 21
For more than eight months after he said good-bye to McCandless, Franz remained at his campsite, scanning the road for the approach of a young man with a large pack, waiting patiently for Alex to return. During the last week of 1992, the day after Christmas, he picked up two hitchhikers on his way back from Salton City to check his mail. . . ‘I started telling them about my friend, Alex, and the adventure he’d set out to have in Alaska.’ Suddenly, the Indian youth interrupted: “Was his name Alex McCandless?”
‘Yes, that’s right. So, you’ve met him then–’
“I hate to tell you mister, but your friend is dead. Froze to death up on the tundra. Just read about it in Outdoor magazine.”
In shock, Franz interrogated the hitchhiker at length. The details rang true; his story added up. Something had gone horribly wrong. McCandless would never be coming back.
~Into the Wild, Chapter 6
The “new normal” is something we hear so often these days. Social isolation is another. American society is slowly and grudgingly adjusting to the “new normal” of people staying home, working from home and quarantining themselves to protect against this disease.
Journal: Have you found “new normal” to be a challenge? What problems have you encountered? How had your life changed, if at all? Is there anything about it that you enjoy?
Wednesday, April 22
Into the Wild
Chris McCandless meets an old Christian man out on the road who takes him in, feeds him, gives him shelter and teaches him to hand tool leather. So McCandless (who, by this time, had changed his name to Alexander Supertramp) hand tools a leather belt to display the story of his wanderings. On one end was his new name “Alex”, then his old name’s initials “CJM” which framed a skull and crossbones, a 2 lane blacktop, a No U-Turn sign, a thunderstorm producing a flash flood that engulfs a car, a hitchhiker’s thumb, an eagle, the Sierra Nevada, salmon in the Pacific, the Pacific Coast Highway, the Rockies, wheat fields, a South Dakota rattlesnake, the Colorado River, a canoe, and finally at the end the letter “N”, presumably representing the direction North where he would go on to meet his demise. I can picture this belt in my mind. Like all great art it made me think about my own life. What will matter enough to go on my belt?
Journal: Create a belt of your life. Draw pictures to represent the most memorable moments (both good and bad) that you would want to put on your own hand tooled belt. You can draw this and take a photo of it, send the picture to me via email or text, with an explanation of each symbol.