I love the story of Chris McCandless. If you’ve ever read the book Into the Wild or seen the movie, that’s his story.
I love he went his own way. He followed a totally different way of being perfectly him. He made choices which to most of us, would look dubious. I’m not here to judge his choices or the heartbreak he would have caused his family, this isn’t about that. I admire how he continued on the path he’d chosen. How more than that, he seemed to embrace discontent and discomfort as part of his way and he doggedly kept on.
I feel like we spend so much time wondering what everyone else is doing or thinking, we forget to make our own way.
We react, when we can act.
I spent some horrible years being part of some heavy situations both at work and at home, which left me kind of stamped on. I had a manager who was a bully – to many people, not just me – who used to say horrible, personal things. Never work related. It was like his whole direction in life was to (try) and keep small anyone different to him, happier than him, braver than him, younger than him, etc etc etc. His relationship with himself was directed by what he thought everyone else was thinking or doing. He spent his time measuring himself up and making sure he was the alpha.
At some point in our lives there’ll probably be someone like my ex-manager. The one you detest but who shows you so much. Interacting with him taught me trying to please anyone else, is a fruitless, miserable place to exist in. Most of all he showed me the misery we feel when we disconnect from our own way.
Chris McCandless and my ex-manager are the extremes. Chris was so into his own way, he was ultimately alone, and that’s cool… for Chris. Not for me. My manager, not making his way, was also ultimately alone. He had so many barriers between himself and the people in his world, he was alone in a metaphorical way.
The beautiful thing is, we don’t have to be extreme. When we make our own way, we find the right way, and for most of us, it isn’t extreme because we don’t need it to be. Most of us love being part of humankind and of communities who support us and none of us have to choose to worry about what everyone else is thinking.
When we stop trying be something we’re not, the most graceful thing happens: we realise plenty of other travellers are making their own way alongside us.