Happiness (n): the state of being happy. Synonyms: satisfaction, joy, delight.
I had the opportunity to sit down with some of the seniors earlier this week to discuss the current book we are reading: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer over a campfire setting.
As we sat around our makeshift campfire, talking about McCandless' adventure, munching on campfire food, listening to the sounds of the wilderness, I couldn't help but be happy. Happy with the time I am given to spend with this teenagers. Delighted with being about to share some of my knowledge with these aspiring students. Satisfied with the success of a well-planned lesson. But most of all, happy with where this wild life as brought me.
After we put away the ferocious Teklanika River made from an old blue blanket, cleaned up the wood logs, and packed up the lawn chairs, I reflected on our experience in class that day. At that moment in time I was experiencing something that Chris yearned for his entire life: pure happiness.
Christopher McCandless was a young man pursuing his own happiness. He desired to live in the Alaskan wilderness without society means. Unfortunately, (spoiler alert) he perished during his adventure. Even though he experienced hardships, I believe he was never short on happiness. He was in constant travel mode and lived by his own means aside from what others, parents and society, told him to do. In fact, during his time at the bus (his Alaskan home), he marked a passage from Tolstoy's Family Happiness that stated: "He was right in saying that the only certain happiness in life is to live for others." Beside this passage McCandless wrote, "Happiness is only real when shared." (Krakauer, 189)
At first read I was a little confused by his comment. If happiness is only real when shared, why didn't Chris want to share his happiness with others on his greatest adventures? Or maybe he just didn't want to share his journey with a select few. We know that Chris' relationship with his parents was strained. Maybe because of this flawed relationship, he just didn't want to share his happiness with them but did with others. We know from Krakauer's story that he met many people throughout his final journey that he considered friends: Wayne and Jan. Why would he want to share his life with people he doesn't really know? Why would that make him happy? Many questions unanswered.
Whether his motives for sharing his happiness are ever known or not, the most important lesson that I can glean from Chris is to find what makes you happy and DO IT. He did. One of his last journal entries point directly to him being happy with his life.
I want each of you to be happy with your life even if that means going against the grain sometimes. "If they give you lined paper, write the other way." If the other way makes you happy, choose the path that's going to be make you happy. And then - include people. People are what make this life interesting, exciting, difficult, fun, etc.
Find your happiness. Find your passion. Live it. Breath it.