I recently went to a local playground with my young girls. I walked around casually following them as they explored the array of colorful pipes and swings. When I saw my oldest daughter struggling and I offered to help, she shouted “I can do it all by myself.” Meanwhile, she kept calling on me to help so I was oddly confused. I’m definitely not God but I wonder often if this is how he feels when we do the same thing. Nevertheless, it got me thinking about how we as humans view the adventure and struggle of life.
I recently re-watched two amazing survival movies, 127 Hours (2010) and Into the Wild (2007). I’ve always been curious by books and movies like these along with Call of the Wild, Alive, and Unbroken. Perhaps my quest of manhood is revealed through their stories. What amazed me most about these stories is that they are based on real events while not entirely dreamed up by Hollywood.
127 Hours features Aron Ralston a 20-something adventurist out west. He became widely known in May 2003 when, while canyoneering in Utah, he was forced by an accident to amputate his right arm with a dull knife in order to free himself from a boulder. James Franco did a terrific job playing Aron and the movie was anchored by director Danny Boyle with dream-like cinematography. It is a difficult movie to watch due to the amputation scene but like many I’ve spoken to about it, it still captivates you.
Into the Wild features Chris McCandless played by Emile Hirsch, a recent college grad who packs up his car, leaves his family and heads west to the Alaskan wilderness with little food and equipment, hoping to live in solitude. In only a few months he died of starvation. While a disturbing movie, it is beautifully helmed by Sean Penn and the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder is inspiring. I catch myself on weekends driving around town and opening up the windows to listen to Big Hard Sun.
The question after watching these two films is “Why” go on these adventures alone?
Like these two characters, I love being out on my own whether it be hiking, traveling, or playing golf. I haven’t been able to do that in a long time but I know the power it can have in restoring my soul, spending time with God, enjoying time to reflect. I am reminded by a powerful line from John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart, which stirs me.
“Men need to go on a safari of the heart to recover a life of freedom, passion, and adventure.”
It is good to go on that journey.
Here is the problem: Man is misguided by the world.
The world says that he should be an island. The world says…Go it alone. Rely on yourself. Don’t admit weakness.
In 127 Hours, Aron becomes stuck and recognizes that he must go to extreme measures to return to the people he loves. He fights to get back to them. In Into the Wild, Chris feels like regular society has left him so he must leave it. People should not be part of this equation, only nature. In the end of the story as he literally is lying on his deathbed, Chris reflects on the people he loved and who loved him. That is what mattered most in the end.
There is a reason that men ultimately love movies like The Fellowship of the Ring and Band of Brothers because the adventure is about being together. It is the similar with women and movies they love focusing on deep and enduring friendships.
It is important to go on that “safari of the heart”.
But that safari is meaningless without sharing the spirit of it with people and God that inspires it.