Feel Strong

Sometimes you read the book first and then see the movie. That's always been my preference. You are able to dig deeper into the psyche of the characters and follow more closely the path down which the writer leads. Books are rarely limited by pages, movies are always limited by time and the director's ability.

Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code was a fun story to follow on paper, rather dull on the silver screen. Most of John Grisham's (older) books do well on paper, less well at the cinema. With the exception of the Green Mile and the Shankshaw Redemption, all of Stephen King's stories do him justice in ink.

Recently I pilfered a book from a good friend's house, Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer. It was quite a few years old and sitting snuggly in a waist high book shelf when it caught my eye. It peered up at me like an old friend. I removed it careful not to damage the cover and opened the first page. Within a few lines I was in a trance. I closed it quickly not to destroy the moment and asked if I could take it for a read.

I had seen Into the Wild on an inbound flight from London to South Africa. This is relevant as I was privy on that flight to aeroplane emotions, a sensitivity heightened by jet travel and stirred homecoming nostalgia. The movie took my fancy, not just because I had read Krakauer's Into Thin Air, but because my friend Duncan had recommended it. To put Duncan into perspective, although currently based in Greece, Duncan wants to do a 100 mile race in California because they give you a belt buckle if you finish the race. His suggestions are not taken lightly.

The movie stirred something within my core. A pursuit of Spartan zeitgeist ideals where one has to abandon what one loves in order to truly appreciate it. The Mosquito Coast, The Beach, Fight Club all touch on this sliver, which lies under everyone's skin, of walking away and turning on our lives and seeking something beyond. In the case of Chris McCandless, the book's protagonist, it is the search of the Alaskan wilderness. I arrived at Oliver Thambo international rejuvenated and inspired by the adaptation hewn by the talents of director Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch, the actor who portrayed McCandless.

Aside from teaching you that anything can be achieved on very little, the movie's soundtrack written and performed by Eddie Vedder, is nothing less than incendiary. The fury and feral strains undertone and colour the movie perfectly.

Based on the quality of the movie, I opened the book with the trepidation that I would be disappointed. However, as the story progressed I sunk deeper and deeper into it and devoured it within a few days.

What can an athlete or other mortal take from this? Well let me throw out one of the many memorable quotes from the movie:
I read somewhere.....how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong... but to feel strong.

Feel Strong,


  1. Right on Robbie! love this. Love the tidbit on winning the belt buckle! If they give you that in California...wonder what they give you in Texas-a cattle?

  2. I love the idea of doing a race for little glory and no trophies, just to see if it can be done. In South Africa, the Comrades medal is smaller than a US quarter. And yet, that is more valuable to me than some monster medals I have received for other races.