I don't know when, nor do I know why I have become so interested in everything that surrounds us, human beings. I don't know why my curiosity is constantly leading me towards a desire to learn more about things I don't understand, don't agree with or simply never gave much thought to. From the environment to global warming, veganism and the sustainability secret all the way up to even more in depth ideologies such as the power of isolation and solitude...from Tolstoy's stories to Thoreau's passages, over the past few months I have found myself really connected with something bigger than I can explain.
Whether it was the documentaries I watched, movies I saw or even books I read, I do not know. All I know is that I feel as if I'm way past the point of acknowledging that some of the principles I used to live by are not true to who I am and who I aspire to be.
For some reason, I felt the need to re-watch some of the documentaries about global warming and all these other subjects. One of the movies I was very keen to watch once more was 'Into the Wild', the tragic, yet fascinating story of Alex McCandless, where we're exposed to the dark side of a wilderness experience, in what is a real story about a man who understood the power of solitude, and who had a bigger connection to nature than personal possessions or money; a man who dropped everything in search of freedom; someone who wanted to break free from the chains of society to find himself. Walking alone into the wilderness was supposed to help him to understand the mentality of those who succumb to the wild; it was supposed to invent a new life for him. Instead, some say, it lead to his destruction. There are, however, some who believe he truly found freedom, not so much happiness. In the words of McCandless himself, happiness is only real when shared, something McCandles realised almost at the end of his tragic journey.
I watched Into the Wild on Netflix, two or three times before buying the book by Jon Krakauer, author of Thin Air. I was left with a few questions after watching the movie, and I was really hoping that the book 'Into the Wild' would help to answer them all. I bought the book because I wanted to have a better understanding of the motives that led a successful man with a brilliant career ahead of him; a top-of-the-class student who came from a wealthy family, to drop everything in search of himself in the middle of nowhere. Was he just a stubborn teenager with a hormonal crisis? Or was he way ahead of his time? Did he understand something that goes beyond everyone else's ability?
Just as much as the Netflix film moved me at the time, the book left me hooked from page one. I probably never mentioned this before, but I am not a fan of books. I've always been pretty lazy when it comes to reading, and I tend to watch the 'movie-versions-of-books', if I can. I mean, why read a book for days when you can watch the same story on a screen in less than 3 hours and have the same understanding of the story, right? (So, so wrong...!)
The book is extremely moving; I was obsessed with it! And just like the documentaries on sustainability, environmental changes and global warming, this book changed my perception of so many things, and opened up my eyes (and wallet...haha!) to countless authors for my future literature purchases.
I believe it took me about two days to finish reading Into the Wild. And trust me, for someone who simply does not enjoy reading very much, it's incredible how I've managed to stay hooked for so long. My 'ADHD' doesn't normally let me focus on more than a couple of chapters at a time, but this book just kept hitting me with such brilliance, it was impossible to stop reading!
The outcome? After reading about Chris McCandless's full story and his motives, I couldn't help but search his favourite literature authors, books and passages, which led to buying more books from genius minds, with stories covering the same ideologies defended by McCandless. I highly recommend that your read this book at some point in your life, if you haven't already.
One of the books I bought next was Anthony Storr's masterpiece, Solitude. I've always enjoyed philosophy at school, and at one point I considered following this path as a career. I've always loved to study about the lives and ideologies of Descartes, Karl Marx, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, and Kant. I've studied some fascinating topics in high school and later at University, but I'll have to admit that I was too 'young and immature' to understand all the ideas behind the books.
This book argues that solitude ranks alongside relationships in its impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity, as well as on society's progress and health, and the author also argues that solitary activity is essential not only for geniuses, but often for the average person as well. In essence, it talks about and analyses the benefits and joys of solitude in a fascinating way. But it doesn't just talk about solitude. This book goes all the way to exploring subjects such as the hunger of imagination, the significance of the individual, and the desire and pursuit of the 'whole'.
The next book I read was 'Family Happiness' by Tolstoy, and what a brilliant novel. I loved it. So many beautifully written sentences, and a very deep story about what happiness is. In essence, I liked the author's vision that one can either spend life being miserable about what is lost or one can make an effort to move forward into the future. The choice, in the end, is what decides happiness.
Finally, I also purchased the book The Stars, the Snow, the Fire, Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness, a book by John Haines.
The good thing about these purchases is that I've barely spent any money on them. If it weren't for having to pay for the shipping (obviously...), they would have been even cheaper, since I got them all in second-hand, except for the first one. They all came in great condition, even though this last one had quite a few scribbles done with a black marker on the front cover, and also at the back. Inside, though, the pages were immaculate, so I wasn't too bothered about it. After all, I bought it for about £2 plus shipping, so I cannot complain! Absolute bargain!
If you've been reading my blog since the beginning of my journey, you will know that winter is my absolute favourite time of the year, especially snow. I've never been to Alaska, but after reading Into the Wild I became really fascinated with Alaska. This book was so satisfying to read because it is a set of ruminations on nature and the role people play in nature. Reading this book, it almost felt like I was reading poetry, and I do love poetry! Haines views man as part of the environment in an unsentimental but powerful light, and once more, I was introduced to literature from another author who also talks about how troubled they are killing animals for fur, even though Haines views this as a necessity. With views similar to those of Chris McCandless, this book makes you feel as though you're in the wilderness with the author. It's a stunning, lyrical and beautifully written piece.
Once I finished reading all this literature, I was really impressed with myself, since there's no way I would have ever managed to read this much in such a short period of time. It is very unusual to me, which somehow makes me think if I simply never found subjects I'm really passionate about. Because, you know what they say, that if you're passionate about something, you'll enjoy doing it. This is how I felt reading all of these books. I felt my curious, naive side asking more and more questions, and found more and more literature to give me answers. No, it didn't feel like a burden, it felt exciting!
I am still finishing this last book, and who knows what new literature I'll be diving into next, but I really enjoyed this experience, and I honestly feel like I've learned something valuable from each of these authors. Whether about myself, the environment, solitude, or even Alaska, I am definitely keeping these books on a shelf, since I'm sure I will truly want to read them again.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and I hope it made you curious to also read these books and find out more about these subjects. I will have another post soon for you to read.