In my senior year of high school I had entered into a controversial state of mind that my private Christian school was not too fond of, to say the least. I had just finished the summer of which I had spent most of locked up in my room due to a mistake I made a couple weeks after finishing my junior year. I was grounded for throwing a party -or two or three- for a family for whom I was house sitting. The repercussions were devastating: annexed friendships, hostility towards my family, and a relationship I entered into shortly after that turned abusive. Details of these stories are irrelevant as this blog tries to be less about my past, and more about my present and future. However, through these hardships, I found joy in a dream that was realized after reading “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer.
If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it, as it has changed my life. But to sum it up, the book is not so much about the plot, as it is the concept. Krakauer skillfully portrays the life of Christopher Johnson McCandless AKA Alexander Supertramp without bias, as there are two points of view of his life. Was McCandless a hero or a fool? I do not care to talk about this man without bias, because he is hands down, one of my biggest inspirations in life. After graduating with good grades from Emory University, McCandless gave away his entire college fund of $25,000 to charity, nixed communication with his family, abandoned his legal name, and began traveling across the states with his 1982 Datsun that was later destroyed in a flash flood. He continued his journey, meeting new people, working a variety of jobs, and hitchhiking until he reached the Alaskan wilderness. Although unprepared, McCandless survived here for over 100 days until he died of what is hypothesized to be a poisoning from moldy seeds that further contributed to his starvation.
While McCandless’s death is romantically unfortunate, the ideas of McCandless is what has created my infatuation with his tale. He dared to find out what many people are too afraid to find out and rather, willingly trap themselves into a bubble of security and monotony and as McCandles states, “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. 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. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.”
This is easily my favorite quote of all time, and is the spark that flamed the crazy idea in me to travel to Bolivia this summer. Along with the fact that I was disappointed in the school system.
Oh, the U.S. education system… After having the hardest time with being one of the only kids in my prestigious private school that was to attend community college, I decided I just wouldn’t go. I wanted to stick it to the man, and follow directly in McCandless’s footsteps (besides the dying part). I had planned on hitchhiking around the United States, and do as I pleased. But remember that abusive relationship I mentioned earlier? It stopped this aspiration of mine (along with many other aspirations) and I stayed in my hometown working a shitty part-time job, and not going to school. Honestly, I was kind of a loser. And not because I was working a shitty part-time job and not going to school. I fully endorse doing what you love, and if that’s what you love, then by all means continue. But I wasn’t. My love, along with my spirit had dissipated.
Months later, I finally decided I needed a change, so I dropped the relationship, quit my job, and attended the local community college for a class that I had always loved in high school- Spanish.
I loved the class, fell in love with learning, even got an A, and decided I wanted more. So I took summer classes, and then joined full-time in the fall of 2015, a year after I graduated. At first, I planned on getting my degree in Spanish, and at the end of that semester, linguistics, as I also fell in love with a French class I was taking. During the semester however, I got frustrated. I knew exactly what I wanted to study and knew what I needed in order to continue in that field. I did not need a sociology of religion and a conceptual math class to advance my skills, but I was required to take them, among other classes I saw no need for.
One October night, I was expressing my disappointment to my dad and said, “I just don’t understand why I can’t just do what I want.” He simply said, “You can.” And then asked, “What do you want to do?” I said travel, and immerse myself in Spanish language. And he said… “Then do it.”
It was as simple as that. A couple days later, I had booked a flight that left for Bolivia on May 25th.