Into the Wild

Matt Johnson Articles

I finally watched Into the Wild tonight and naturally it really got me thinking (hate it when movies do that). The main character, driven to escape “society” goes on a quest to find happiness. The movie chronicles this quest as goes from abandoning the most sacred human relationship, family, to isolating himself in the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. At the beginning of his journey he is desperately trying to get away from his connection to people, “getting out of this sick society. Society”. Later in the movie as he has formed several meaningful relationships he takes a gentler tone but still finds himself concentrated on his Alaskan refuge “You don’t need human relationships to be happy, God has placed it all around us.” And at the conclusion of his journey he seems to have figured it out in his final thought, “Happiness only real when shared.”

It’s obvious that he meant to express with that quote that without our relationships life is meaningless. While these relationships are far from perfect and are the source of our problems, they are also the source of our joy and meaning. Another quote from the movie that I think demonstrates the true nature of his quest, and the reason why he was appalled by “society” was his thought, “Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.” Nature, pets included brings us back to reality, in that it/they present to us no lies, not even a capability of falsehood, but raw truth. In society devoid of nature there are many other things that begin to drive our motivation and ultimately shape who we become. I think we begin to see ourselves the way other people see us, which is flawed and without grace. Nature gives us a chance to reflect on who we are in a very real, very connected way, that helps us stay genuine and in turn make our relationships with people more genuine. During his journey the relationships he has reflect that genuineness and despite his defiance of social standards manages to have lasting and meaningful impact on those he comes in contact with in very unlikely friendships.

I talk a lot about nature in my blogs and probably not enough about people. There is a healthy balance and both are critically important parts of who we are. I hope that Critter Cabana can help people both connect with other people and connect with nature. Our society is changing and becoming more and more urban and less and less integrated with nature. While Into the Wild presents very extreme separation of society and nature, I don’t think that our future can contain societal places that are separate from nature places. I hope that Critter Cabana and our community can be pioneers in looking for more and more ways to integrate the two starting with giving importance to our relationships with our fish, birds, cats, dogs, snakes, lizards, and rodents.