Into the Wild


I watched Into the Wild some weeks ago, and as any good movie, it brought up a good deal for me to look at.

As usual with movies and life in general, it is an invitation to find in myself what I see in the characters in the movie, and especially those my attention is drawn to through sympathy, aversion or ambivalence.

And it an invitation to see what beliefs come up for me in watching the movie, and inquire into them.

My attention was mainly drawn to the idealism of the main character, and there was some ambivalence there. On the one hand, it was heartfelt and beautiful. On the other hand, it was naive, reckless and harmed himself and others.

So the question for me then is how am I idealistic in that way?

I find that whenever I believe a story, that naive idealism happens.

The story – and the view and identity that comes with it – seems true, real, substantial, so I hold onto it.

I am naive, because I don’t see it as just a story, I don’t see the truth in its reversals, I don’t explore other stories to see if they may be more useful, and I don’t see the inherent neutrality of the situation.

And I sometimes harm myself and others when I cling to a story in that way, and act as if it is true.

I don’t have to be a starry eyed kid to be blindly idealistic in that way. I do it right now, whenever I am caught up in a story.

In this case, our stories about him may be that he was an idealistic hero, seeing through the facade of middle class life. Or that he was a spoiled brat going out into the wilderness without being prepared. In either case, if these stories become beliefs, as soon as we identify with them, they become naive idealism.

A should about life, which does not conform to our shoulds.

What happens when I find this idealism in myself? For instance, how do I see him differently?

Am I able to see that, yes, it would have been smarter of him to take the time to prepare and take a map and tent with him when he went into the wilderness. And am I able to find myself in him, appreciate his idealism, and see when I do the same? Can I appreciate the idealism, and also bring in more maturity?

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