ad astra per alia porci

McCandless’ letter
August 21, 2008, 9:57 am
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This moved me greatly. The more I read about him the more I agree with what he has to say and what he stands for. This is potentially life changing. I shall quote his letter to Ron Franz in full here. Read the letter, than read it another time. Take the time to let its contents soak into your brain, and its wisdom diffuse through the vessels in your brain, hardened by the stifling confines of bare rationality and sterile practicality.

Alex here. I have been working up here in Carthage South Dakota for nearly two weeks now. I arrived up here three days after we parted in Grand Junction, Colorado. I hope that you made it back to Salton City wihtout too many problems. I enjoy working here and things are going well. The weather is not very badn and many days are surprisingly mild. Some of the farmers are even already going into their fields. It must be getting rather hot down there in Southern California by now. I wonder if you ever got a chance to get out an dsee how many people showed up for the March 20 Rainbow gathering there at the hotsprings. It sounds like it might have been a lot of fun, but I don’t think you really understand these kind of people very well.

I will not be here in South Dakota very much longer. My friend, Wayne, wants me to stay working at the grain elevator through May and then go combining with him the entire summer, but I have my soul set entirely on my Alaskan Odyssey and hope to be on my way no later than April 15. That means I will be leaving here before very long, so I need you to send any more mail I may have received to the return address listed below.

Ron, I really enjoy all the help you have given me and the times we spent together. I hope that yo will not be too depressed by our parting. It may be a very long time before we see each other again. But providing that I get through ths Alaskan Deal in one piece you will be hearing form me again in the future. I’d like to repeat the advice I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing or been to hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one piece of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, Ron, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to sch a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty. And so, Ron, in short, get out of Salton City and hit the Road. I guarantee you will be very glad you did. But I fear that you will ignore my advice. You think I am stubborn, but you are even more stubborn than me. You had a wonderful chance on your drive back to see one of the greatest sights on earth, the Grand Canyon, something every American should see at least once in his life. But for some reason incomprehensible to me you wanted nothing but to bolt for home as quickly as possible, right back to the same situation which you see day after day after day. I fear you will follow this same inclination in the future and thus fail to discover all the wonderful things that God has placed around us to discover. Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.

You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.

My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it. The only person you are fighting is yourself and your stubbornness to engage in new circumstances.

Ron, I really hope that as soon as you can you will get out of Salton City, put a little camper on the back of your pickup, and start seeing some of the great work that God has done here in the American West. you will see things and meet people and there is much to learn from them. And you must do it economy style, no motels, do your own cooking, as a general rule spend as little as possible and you will enjoy it much more immensely. I hope that the next time I see you, you will be a new man with a vast array of new adventures and experiences behind you. Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. Just get out and do it. You will be very, very glad that you did.

Take care Ron,



6 Comments so far
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I saw this movie last night and saw a directionless man running from himself and reality on nothing but an extended suacide journey. there is nothing nobel about serventless lifestyles and appeasing no one but yourself. I was only impressed that he gave his money to chairity. he should have joined the peace corps and served the world traveling for others needs.. instead he sered ony his selfish self. nothing impressive about this man at all. signed “bayloy m. nicholas”

Comment by nick

directionless man? How insulting. He had an ambition, a passion to explore and leave behind the drudgeries and routine of the modern world, to forge a lifestyle on his own terms, rather than the lifestyle that is almost, forced upon us. An extended suicide journey? Admittedly it proved to be a fatal ending, but I see Mcandless as a fearless and inspiring persona! & I believe it very strongly. He does not make himself out to be ‘nobel’ or ‘heroic’, he did not intend to set out to save lives and heal those that are sufferring. He wanted to exhaust life of its potential and he succeeded at doing so.

And now I’ll leave you with the wise words of Roosevelt

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

Comment by Shereen

I also just saw the movie “Into The Wild” last night, and I felt the complete opposite of “bayloy m. nicholas” who saw Alex as “a directionless man running from himself and reality on nothing but an extended suacide journey”. I wonder what motivates people to make these harsh, mean-spirited judgements of Chris and the path that he choose. True reality can be found in the Alaskan wilderness where he went to confront and find himself, not in the man made cities and civilized “lifestyles” of conformity, full of false, meaningless distractions. His journey was a sort of Spirit/Vision Quest, that the young native american males went on as a right of passage. Would critic “Nick” have given all of his $24,000 wealth to charity, or turned down a “Free” new car. He touched the people he met along his journey, like old Man Franz and shared what he had with them. He was only 24, and I believe that had he been able to cross the river and return to “the real world”, he would have returned to his parents and started a new life of service to others. I’ll bet that those of harsly criticize Chris, are trapped in their own false, meaningless lives in the civilized rat race, and don’t have the balls to take any risks and live a truly exciting, adventuresome life, free from the shackles of materialism, consumerism, capitolism, and conformoty.

Comment by Orion

I admire Christopher’s want of adventure. The first time I left the states I could feel it. The second time I left, I didn’t want to come back and this happens every time I go. The adventure of meeting new friends daily, living everyday as if it’s your first… or last, i get all that. What i don’t get is why Christopher didn’t think to bring a map or compass on his venture far north. to that extent, I don’t see him as a on a suicide mission so much as I see him as the brilliant minded result of two brainiac parents and a spoiled lifestyle… a kid with a college education, but not a lot of common sense. this last trait is not a given, it’s a talent. whether your a vagabond, a brain surgeon or a ballerina… some have it, some don’t. that appears to me, to be his downfall.

Comment by Victoria

This letter should be read by most members of our society today. It’s eloquence is humbling.

Comment by D. Anderson

“Sean Penn’s movie as well as Krakauer’s article and book are telling of Chris McCandless/Alex Supertramp. He appears to have been one in a milion, maybe even rarer.

Of course (this blog included) those written or pictoral tellings are recorded interpretations of events that were Alex’s life. As such, written words (and pictures to a different degree) are prone to the author or reader’s personal take on what actually may have happened. We do not know Alex, we only know of him.

That said, many fellow humans aspire to greatness and are attracted to those who emulate that greatness. Thoreau, Martin Luther King Jr., Buddha, Jesus, Gandhi, and so many others seem to have discovered true essences of human life.

I will offer this small quote that I hope will be felt commonly by other readers. It is by philosopher and Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin from his nook “The Phenomenom of Man’ –

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience;
we are spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Comment by Whitey/Jeff

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