Welcome to the 1st of the weekly series on The Mad To Live: The Traveling Philosophers Roundtable. Each week a group of world-traveling, life-inspiring, dream-pursuing bloggers from all walks of life will share their personal opinions, stories and insights based on a question stemming from a quote,  event, video, photo, etc.

We all go through our lives collecting insane, inspiring, and irreplaceable experiences and adventures that make us who we are. And one of the best things about traveling anywhere is the people you meet along your path with whom you get to exchange those experiences and adventures with. They inspire us, challenge us, and change us. And that’s what we’re doing right here.

This Week’s Roundtable Discussion: INTO THE WILD.

The non-fiction book and film Into The Wild is about Chris McCandless, who after graduating from Emory University as a top student and athlete, abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness.

Christopher McCandless: No, man. Alaska, Alaska. I’m gonna be all the way out there, all the way fucking out there. Just on my own. You know, no fucking watch, no map, no axe, no nothing. No nothing. Just be out there. Just be out there in it. You know, big mountains, rivers, sky, game. Just be out there in it, you know? In the wild.
Wayne Westerberg: In the wild.
Christopher McCandless: Just wild!
Wayne Westerberg: Yeah. What are you doing when we’re there? Now you’re in the wild, what are we doing?
Christopher McCandless: You’re just living, man. You’re just there, in that moment, in that special place and time – the freedom and simple beauty is too good to pass up…

Roundtable Discussion:

There’s something about the freedom of exploring uncharted territory – be it a crazy adventure or a peaceful wandering – how it makes you feel, the answers you find while you’re there, the way it changes you. Does a specific time come to mind when you were just living, in that moment, in that freedom similar to the way Chris McCandless was talking about it? What did you learn about yourself or the world, how did it change you, what made it so imperfectly perfect? Why do you think so many people are like Wayne don’t quite understand this mentality?

Collin Vine

Collin Vine of The Trailblazing Life

They laughed at me for trying to take deodorant. They made me remove my excessive load of underwear and socks until I was down to just 2 pairs each. They got rid of the TP we tried to bring. Only the bare essentials were allowed on this trip.

I was nervous. I had never spent 30 days mountaineering and didn’t know what to expect. But I knew, deep inside, that I had to go on this journey. The white-out snowstorms, the incessantly wet socks and underwear, the snow that we used as TP – to this day it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done; to this day it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done.

Chris McCandless chose to explore the geographical unchartered territory; others choose to explore the mental, physical or emotional. It doesn’t matter how or what you choose to explore, it just matters that you do. If you don’t, you’ll be one among the many. Fitting in? No thanks. Instead, let’s stand out.

Spencer Spellman Spencer Spellmen of The Traveling Philosopher

That moment has definitely been the first few weeks of 2011; having left a home, car, and office job to become a digital nomad. Spending the last few weeks in Central America, experiencing different cultures has taught me that the more I travel, the less I really know about life and the world. To me, travel is the window through which we understand the rest of the world. This life I’ve set out on certainly hasn’t been without skeptics and people who don’t quite understand. In much of the western world, it’s somewhat expected that one’s life should take on a certain progression. While doing the 9-5, having a big family, and living in suburbia is for many, it’s certainly not for everyone. With that said, though I tried that life for awhile, I’m happy I’m now living outside the lines. (Photo by Kirsten Alana)

Shannon WhiteheadShannon Whitehead of All Of Us Revolution

As challenging as it is, I think choosing to focus on the “now” is something that can and should be pursued every day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Having said that, I didn’t begin living my own life “in the moment” until I went to New Zealand two years ago. It was during the time I spent road-tripping around the South Island in a tiny rental car, that I began to realize the true meaning of freedom.

Nothing else matters when you’re driving through the most scenic and untouched landscapes you’ve ever seen. That’s something that will change you. Obligation, social pressure and trivial things are rendered meaningless when surrounded by nature in it’s purest form.

It was those moments in New Zealand — jumping out of a plane, climbing a glacier, or driving for hours on a deserted road– that I flipped the switch. My priorities changed, and my life began to go down a completely different road of its own.

Lauren Rains of I couldn’t resist answering this

There’s something about just BEING. There’s a misconception out there that when traveling it all needs to be so GO-GO-GO. We have that same misconception about life. And hey, I’m guilty as charged. I get antsy sitting still in the same place be it for 1 hour in a room or 1 month in a city.

But if we’re able to let go just a little bit, we can really change the way we view life and start to learn ourselves. Suddenly we’re left with ourselves and our surroundings, and for the first time in a long time, we actually consciously notice everything about them.

One of these days I’d like to pack up a few of my belongings and favorite shirts and just start to drive with no destination in mind. I’ll just follow the horizon I guess, stopping where I feel like I’m meant to stop, turning where I’m meant to turn, ending where I’m meant to end. I’d just BE in my kind of “wild”.

Jessalyn Pinneo of Diary of a Wandering Student

Whenever I walk down the street in a new place, giddy excitement sweeps through me and it’s all I can do not to burst out laughing with sheer delight at being wherever I am. For some people it’s museums; for me it’s diving into life in the local culture that makes a place feel real. By interacting with the people around me – locals and other tourists – I learn more about myself. During every trip I take, I get to know myself a little better by talking with the people I meet and paying attention to how life works in a part of the world that’s new to me. Coming to understand the little things that help define a people and their culture makes me feel giddy all over again, with the excitement of learning and the rush of freedom that comes with the adventure of each day on the road.

Join The Table

So, what about you? What does it mean to be “Into the Wild” for you? Of course, Chris McCandless was one badass, risk-taking, status-quo defying mother F-er who took going “Into the Wild” to its extreme! And while it is sad that he ultimately died in the wild, his story is inspiring, and we can say that he truly, deeply LIVED.

Everyone here – Spencer Spellman, Collin Vine, Jessalyn Pinneo, and Shannon Whitehead – are truly inspiring people. Each of them has taken some pretty big leaps of faith to follow their world-exploring, business-starting, self-growing dreams. They know what it is to really LIVE and be ALIVE.

And that my friends, is an invaluable thing to know how to do, and one we should never stop practicing and chasing after.

So, what about you? What does it mean to be “Into the Wild” for you?
What are your experiences, insights, and opinions?  Join the roundtable in the comments! I reply to each comment with love and thought and nothing is cooler than the discussion that get’s going from you guys, so don’t forget to Subscribe to the Comments!

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About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

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