Who is Christopher McCandless? He’s an enigma, an idea, a philosophy.
In the early 90s, Chris abandoned his life in search of something more meaningful than the materialistic society in which he found himself a prisoner. After graduating with honors from Emory College in Atlanta, Chris donated his life savings to charity and embarked on a trip around the country without telling anyone where he was going.
Soon after leaving, Chris abandoned his car, burnt all of his money, and spent the next two years hitchhiking around the United States, eventually making his way to Alaska. In April, Chris was dropped off near Denali National Park, where he hiked into the wilderness. Four months later, a hunter found his lifeless body wrapped inside his sleeping bag.
Before his death, Chris found the ironic truth he’d set out to find in the Alaskan wilderness, which was left scrawled in his journal:
“Happiness is only real when shared.” ~ Christopher McCandless
The legacy of Chris lives on in the hearts of many, myself included. The desire for simplicity, to be free of expectations and demands from society, to seek freedom, truth, beauty, and meaning. Purpose. In these ways, Chris represents everything right about humanity: the purity of his intentions, the raw idealism of his plans, the honest belief in himself. He followed his heart, and died chasing a dream.
Chris has become an icon, and he will forever represent an idealism found only in the innocence of youth. The legacy of Chris McCandless is one of hope. I think people need that.
If you want to learn more about Christopher and his inspiring (and heartbreaking) story, check out the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.