What is the ultimate freedom in life

How much freedom can a person tolerate? (True story of one who got serious)

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Text by: Romy Hausmann

“He wandered the world for two years, no phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Total freedom ... And now, after two years of wandering around, comes the ultimate and greatest adventure. ”- Alexander Supertramp, May 1992

From the outside, Chris McCandless ‘Life looks like frosted. He comes from a wealthy family, is healthy and has just finished his studies in an exemplary fashion. The world lies at the 22-year-old's feet like a rolled-out carpet. But for Chris, who is smart, reads a lot and has existential questions, it just doesn't feel right. Behind the sticky facade he has problems with his parents, whom he considers hypocritical, and in general the thought of being part of a suit-wearing, money-making society repulses him more and more.

Chris wants out. Want freedom. No more relationships, nothing at all to hold him in. A life in which he is as close as possible to his original, pure self. A life in harmony with nature. He wants to see a sky without skyscrapers. Without contrails from airplanes. Just an empty blue sky. He sums up his deepest longing with a quote from the American writer David Henry Thoreau: "Better than love, than money, than fame - give me truth."

He donates all of his money, which was actually intended for postgraduate studies in law, to a charitable organization, cuts up his ID card and bank cards, and breaks off contact with his family. For two years he crossed America, 15 states in total. First by car, later by kayak, on foot or as a hitchhiker. His big goal: Alaska. This is the place that seems to embody all that it is looking for.

On his trip, Chris, who now calls himself "Alexander Supertramp", gets to know a lot of people. People who are kind to him. Give him jobs, food, carpooling. People who would like to be his friends. Who would like to replace his family when he has broken with his own. And Chris likes them, these new, friendly people. Nevertheless, he never stays long, because he just doesn't want them anymore, the human ties that would bind him. He wants to go on to Alaska. He wants to go through with it. Don't let anyone or anything distract you from your deepest longing.

Longing for simplicity

You probably also know the feelings that drive Chris. The life we ​​lead often feels so tight that it takes our breath away. Appointments, commitments, stress. We ask ourselves: “What is all of this for?” What are we giving ourselves all the stress and overtime for? Why do we stay in relationships that are draining us of strength? What all the stuff for, the unnecessarily purchased clothes, under the mass of which the wardrobe gapes its doors? Our appointment planners are overflowing - just how many of the appointments in them are really voluntary? Occasions that we look forward to? And when there is such a day, such a special, personal occasion, then we often cannot enjoy it sufficiently because our heads are already at the next calendar entry. At the next meeting. With the next duty.

How many of us long for deceleration and simplicity? According to psychologists, this is simply a deeply rooted desire for control in a complex world. "Complexity is nothing more than unmanageability, and it hinders the individual much more than in earlier times," says the psychologist Prof. Dr. Dietrich Dörner. The world is turning faster than we could even grasp with our intellect and our learned thought and action patterns.

Inner vagabonds

At the same time, however, we also long for new experiences. Out of our nest, where we know every flower pot and every garden gnome by name ("Servus, Norbert! Everything fit under the pointed cap?"). Please finally have other faces. A new job. Complete reset - now!

Then there are the 30 years of marriage and suddenly the question: should that be it? Is this really the man (or woman) I want to lie with under the pansies? Is there anyone else out there, "better"? Could I fall in love all over again? Be crazy all over again and feel young

Then partners are exchanged as if in a frenzy. The spacious family station wagon was removed and a motorcycle brought in for it. Quit your job as a bank advisor because you now feel called to be a Ballermann singer. The previously often suppressed wish for a change suddenly makes us dumb, we get serious - and sometimes, unfortunately, a quick shot.

Because even with a new partner, everyday life may return at some point. The motorcycle lands in the guardrail. The Ballermann audience boos and throws beer mugs. Only then do we notice: Sometimes the freedom we dreamed of makes us more unhappy in the end than the bondage we felt. And maybe we even want to return. To Hilde or Klaus. At the wheel of the station wagon or behind the bank counter. But is that still possible?

At the end of a dream

After two years, Chris McCandless arrives at his big goal Alaska. Here it is finally free. But Alaska is rough, he realizes. Suddenly his day's work consists only in satisfying one of the last human needs that he cannot escape: his hunger. And another need is now noticeable - one that Chris also underestimated, even consciously rejected: human ties. In Tolstoy's “Family Happiness”, a book that you will find later with him, he marks the point: “The only true happiness is for others to live” and converts it in his diary to his last great insight: “Happiness is only real if you share it. "

And that's probably true. What use is the most beautiful moment when you experience it alone? Has no one to talk to about it? But just can't share pain and suffering either. Let's be grateful for those we have. Those who accompany us on our way are there and celebrate with us when we are fine. But also there to hold our hand when times are bad. These people are a gift - perhaps the greatest of all.

In August 1992, after 113 days in Alaska, Chris dies - at the age of just 24, alone, at the end of a dream. His body is found by moose hunters about two weeks later. It weighs just over 33 kilograms.

What Chris McCandless left behind

The Chris McCandless story makes me rethink my own definition of "freedom" - especially when I feel trapped in my life again. When everything feels too tight. When the obligations overwhelm me and even people I love more than anything really annoy me and strain me from time to time. It makes me question my own goals and dreams and think about what I really want from life - and with whom I want to share it.

We need new experiences, of course. Every now and then a little risk, a new place or a new impulse to grow and educate ourselves. But it doesn't always have to be Alaska, a new partner or a new job. Sometimes it is enough to just take a little time for yourself. To come down, to reflect. To read a book. To learn a foreign language. Or try out the new restaurant on the corner. All of this - such little things - are often enough to create new experiences and impressions in everyday life - and perhaps to notice that the basic things are actually quite good as they are.

If you know the story, what do you think of Chris, his ideals and his journey? How much freedom does a person need and tolerate?

(And if you don't know it yet: The American journalist Jon Krakauer wrote the book “Into the Wild” about it, which is also the basis for the film “Into the Wild”.)

More at The Benefits of Minimalism: 7 Reasons to Simplify Your Life.

Photo: solitude by Mooshny / Shutterstock

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