Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An Allegory For My Missionary Friend

       Not that long ago, an idealistic young man, frustrated with a lack of awesomeness in his ordinary life, came to Alaska and, armed with a small rifle and a bag of rice, found a remote location and settled in to learn more about himself.  He kept a journal of his thoughts and activities through a long winter as he slowly starved to death.  A movie was made, portraying him as an hero of sorts, struggling to define the terms of his own life. He saw himself as a seeker, an explorer, a radical missionary for independence.  He is viewed somewhat differently here.  The folks who found him, the folks who removed his body, and most of the folks who paid to clean up his mess think of him as a fool whose grandiosity of thought outweighed his food cache.  There is empathy here too, for nearly every dreaming newcomer to this country came not altogether prepared. The main difference between him and some of them is that they survived, perhaps because they understood up front that the world can treat naivete harshly, in spite of whether one is driven, passionate, confident, or even superior in their conviction. The risk he took was not entirely his own, and the one thing that could have saved him was contact with the ordinary society he disdained until it was too late.
      There will always be a group of people who will cheer you for putting all your chips in no matter the hand, and there are forces in the arena that aren't playing a game.

1 comment:

kkryno said...

Maybe he was a fool, and maybe he was just on a quest. Either way, he tried until he died. That's more than some people do. I'm sure there were moments of joy, awe and discovery that he wouldn't have traded for anything.