One of my favourite films of all time is Into The Wild, an existential journey of a man who turns away from a promising career in law and instead chooses a life less ordinary by today’s norms.
The inspiring yet ultimately tragic tale of Christopher McCandless (portrayed expertly by the then young Emile Hirsh) strikes a chord for those trapped in a similar situation, faced with a life changing choice.
The film resonates on several levels, of how important nature and relationships are and how unimportant material possessions and conformity really are.
Most of us choose our own paths, although sadly some have paths chosen for them, victims of society or oppressors. Seldom it seems do we make life-changing alterations to our paths, instead opting for safety and reduced risk.
JFK said it best when he exclaimed (in relation to going to the moon):
“We do things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too”.
Last weekend, I met up with my old buddy “M” for a walk in the Clwydian Hills in North Wales, the first time we had been in each other’s extended company since our “Not the New Years Eve Party” on the 3rd of January this year.
We set off early (separate cars) and reached our destination as the early morning field mists began to dissipate as the sun rose higher in the sky.
Opting for the forest route, we bimbled and talked for almost three hours about Life, the Universe and Everything, taking in the flora, fauna and vistas as we wove in and out of copses and along the long and winding path.
Our paths have not been too dissimilar to date, both work in IT, married with children, houses, cars, pensions etc.
We both have a passion for consciousness theory and spent most of our morning discussing time; does it really exist, does the arrow of time only ever go one direction, is our life path predetermined or do we have free will to influence it, are there infinite paths which all play out in hidden dimensions and it is our choices that steer us to the one we perceive as reality?
We talked about our shared goals too, to retire as soon as we were able and lead that life less ordinary, and I shared my own vision of what that may look like; a small holding off-grid, away from everything that has polluted humanity to the extent that we see today every time we turn on the news.
One thing was for sure, time flies and before we knew it we were back at the cars and heading home.
As I drove home, a song came on my playlist from a prog rock band from the UK called Haken. “M” and I had seen them live a few years back (back when live music was still played – I miss it so much), after which we chatted to the lead singer a while, blood nice chap.
Decanting my hiking gear from the car and sitting down with my mid-morning brew, I chanced to read over the lyrics of the song, and how wonderful and poignant they are:
“This life is a dream
A gift we receive
To live and to love
We forge The Path
Our nightmare in birth
Our struggle for worth
In vain we carry on
Our mission to become
Adapt to this world
It’s a chance we must take
We’ll sing our song
We’ll play our hand”
We are all on different paths, our own journeys through time and space, yet sometimes our paths converge with those of others. We should cherish the moments where we can walk along side others, for those moments, those fleeting moments (like my morning trek with “M”) interlink kindred spirits and it is the metaphysical relationships with fellow man that makes us what we are, human…