Monday, August 09, 2004

Into the Wild Housekeeping

Christopher McCandless sought a higher order in Nature, pure violent, unadultered Nature. He left home, friends and the warmer latitudes in search of Life's Meaning. His "Big Adventure" led him to a rusty old bus in the middle of nowhere that was set up as a shelter for weary Alaskan travelers, where he lived off the land for three months.
Chris did not survive his quest, or rather, he did extraordinarly fine until he came upon a certain berry no-one knew had toxic properties.
While in the bush, Chris lived an extremely pared down lifestyle. Found, written on a parchmentlike strip of birch bark, was the following list of chores:

Collect and store ice from the river for refrigerating meat.
Cover the vehicle's missing windows with plastic.
Lay in a supply of firewood.
Clean the accumulation of old ash from the stove.
Long Term:
Map the area.
Improvise a bathtub.
Collect skins and feathers to sew into clothing.
Construct a bridge across creek.
Repair mess kit.
Blaze a network of hunting trails.

Herein lies the essential. Order thoughts, order surroundings. Ensure warmth. Know where you are. Bathe. Build bridges. Maintain what precious you have. Eat.

Not included on the list, is the importance of reading, which McCandless must have assumed to be a given, since he left all the comforts of civilisation behind but for the printed word, in a stack of books that occupied more room in his backpack than boots...or rice.

Adapted from Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild"