Saturday, February 1, 2014

drunk on forests and salty waves


 I'll take this soul that's inside me now /Like a brand new friend I'll forever know /I've got this light 
And the will to show /I will always be better than before
--Eddie Vedder




Last night, several of my more cenobite-minded friends and I watched the film Into the Wild, which is the true-life tale of a young Emory graduate who set off towards the Pacific Ocean.
The film details his journey of letting go, starting with his burning his social security and credit cards, continuing through his encounters with many hippies, farm hands, and various vagabonds, following him until he reaches his ultimate goal: the wilds of Alaska.

We spent a good solid half hour after the movie ended, discussing our responses to the story, and what we thought Christopher McCandless succeeded at, and where he failed, etc., etc.
But I remember my initial reaction to the story, when I first encountered the tale of Christopher McCandless, which was: how on earth did he make his Sunday Mass obligation?
And maybe there's nothing more to that reaction other than: wow, Renée's Catholic guilt is unbelievably potent.

But, as I discussed this particular reaction this morning with my best friend and her boyfriend, as the smell of breakfast tea and sizzling bacon filled the kitchen air, best friend's boyfriend noted he'd had the same thought.
It was interesting, we realized.
Because obviously Christopher McCandless wasn't interested in making a Sunday Mass Obligation.
But I know that, as much as I yearn to leave behind a world full of credit cards and social security numbers and putrid traffic jams and bills and having to wear clothes, I, personally, would be interested in making my Sunday Mass obligation.

Interesting, and more than interesting,  we thought, that we are required to remember at least once a week that we are not alone.
To remember, through the memorial action of the mass, that we are, even in our moments of solitude, in the company of a host of heavenly witnesses.
Even when we stand by ourselves on an island in the middle of the Alaskan forest, we are enveloped in the arms that lie beneath all of reality.
We remember that even in our dearest communities, there is always going to be a pit of essential loneliness in our hearts.
We are always alone, and our credit-card, cell phone world tries to make us forget that.
It is courageous, bold, and daring to remember that.
To leave behind all the distractions, and to find a place where we are alone; where, in that solitude, we can discover what it means to be human, to be alive.
For if we truly dig into the depths of our heart, we will find two people.
One will be our self.
Our self is not a bad self, but we will find there a better someone, a someone who owns our hearts in a way that we never could.
Because, to be human means to have a depth inside of you, a depth that is fundamentally part of you that you will never be able to comprehend.

Inside of us is a yawning for a freedom that the wideness of the Alaskan sky will never be able to give us; but this small disk of white bread could.  


 I won't be the last 
I won't be the first 
Find a way to where the sky meets the earth 
For me it begins at the end of the road 
--Eddie Vedder

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