Alive Movie Poster

Famous author and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was known for his love and reverence for nature. Inspiration can come from poems, novels, movies or your best friend. It's something different for everyone. These selections here are some of the few that did it for me. They remind me of the nature that surrounds us, in good times and bad.

Sometimes there is that certain film that sticks with you through the years. It can take on a completely different meaning today than it did several years before, but still makes you think in the same ways. Alive is the story of a rugby team who crashes into the Andes Mountains without much hope of survival. Yet, of the 45 people on the plane, 16 survived an unimaginable 72 days to tell their story. "To be affronted by solitude without decadence or a single material thing to prostitute it elevates you to a spiritual plane."

In My Side of the Mountain, young Sam Gribley embarks on an adventure that many kids (and adults!) dream of--moving out to the wilderness to live off the land. The award-winning story by Jean Craighead George so inspired me as a child, that I recently decided to read it again. Its message of self-reliance and independence is timeless, regardless of age.

The story's opening captures the imagination and adventurous spirit of both young and old. "I am on my mountain in a tree home that people have passed without ever knowing that I am here. The house is a hemlock tree six feet in diameter, and must be as old as the mountain itself. I came upon it last summer and dug and burned it out until I made a snug cave in the tree that I now call my home." While it might be difficult to move out to the Catskills and hole up in a hemlock, it's easy to pick up this book and leave a worldly life behind if only for a few hours.

My Side of the Mountain Book Cover
Cast Away Movie Poster

While hearing Tom Hanks confide to a volleyball is a bit creepy, it's impossible to not share his solitude and desperation while watching the movie Cast Away. A large portion of the movie is filmed without dialogue as Hanks' character Chuck Noland hones his survival skills on a deserted island.

"We might just make it. Did that thought ever cross your brain? Well regardless I would rather take my chance out there on the ocean, than to stay here and die on this sh**hole island spending the rest of my life talking to a god damn VOLLEYBALL." But in his conversations with "Wilson," Noland makes a vital relationship that partly saves his life. The movie inspires by imparting that anything is possible with sheer willpower. You don't have to be an athlete or rugged outdoorsman to be a survivor.

Now in its 12th season, CBS' reality television series has definitely solidified itself as more than part of a passing reality TV phase. The show pits 16 "castaways" against each other in physical and mental challenges in order to win immunity from "tribal council" and getting voted off the show. The ultimate and lone survivor wins a million-dollar cash prize.

Besides being completely addictive, I think the show is such a success because of its appeal to the survivor in all of us. Yes, that does sound cheesy, but the idea of Survivor is what makes it work so well. Watching people work with and against each other in a "survival" situation brings out true colors. It's hard not to watch them scheme, and most importantly think and strategize in order to win.

Survivor Logo