“Hey listen old man don’t psychoanalyse me alright? Shut up, I’m taking you out to where we’re going.”
“Where you going?”
“I told you, we’re going nowhere!!”
Alexander Supertramp, Into The Wild.
Rarely will something penetrate my layers of darkness enough to evoke a smile. But this hasn’t failed yet.
Of all the quotes I could glean from this story, this may at first seem one of the less philosophical, epiphany-inducing choices. But it makes me smile because I can relate, and it represents a state of mind that I crave and yet is usually so impossibly difficult for me to reach.
“We’re going nowhere!”. It juxtaposes sharply with the mental bombardment I am used to, all the planning, aiming, achieving. My brothers laugh at me for “planning the planning”. I would laugh too but I know it’s true and I feel uncomfortable with it. So the fact that I smile and laugh at the beauty of going nowhere makes me sure that there is something inside me trapped by my world of rules and routine, but silently ignited. Somehow this lifts a layer of the darkness.
Three years ago I got into my yellow car with a large majority of my clothes and belongings and drove from England through Europe as far as Budapest. I drove alone, and wouldn’t have had it another way. There is a glorious thing about journeying alone – I was anonymous and unaccountable. I sang at the top of my voice, laughing loudly at myself when I got the words wrong or chimed in too early. I joked with myself. I threw my arms into the air and shoved my face into the steering wheel when I got lost, only to look up grinning and continue. It was crazy. I loved it.
The scene in Into The Wild where Alex discovers the bus – Magic Bus Day – sets something alight in my core as I remember that feeling of sharing joy with no-one but yourself. Lost in the wild, Alex’s spirit gains ultimate freedom as he luxuriates in solitude, doing, talking and being only with himself. He throws his hands up in mock frustration as he tells the invisible old man once again that there is no destination. It is a deliciously ridiculous thing when you start up a dialogue with yourself. You laugh to yourself, at yourself, with yourself. Maybe you will feel lonely at some point, but right now just you, and your magic bus, or your yellow car, and your nowhere, are enough.
And I feel a little bit more alive than before I wrote this.