A storm is bearing down on the East Coast and there is an eerie calm-before-the-storm sensation outside. People are stocking up on essentials, but at the same time, everyone is hanging-out, just waiting. Waiting for the uncertain. I am about to go into work, but before I go, I wanted to remark that I finished Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.
With the nature of my job (and lack of self-control), I get sucked into reading crazes easily. I understood the general gist of this book: girl’s mom dies, girl backpacks to find clarity. But, I found much more in Strayed’s story than that. I found her well-documented descriptions of the realities of hiking and her detailed descriptions of the landscape of the Pacific Crest Trail. Most importantly though, I was enveloped in her sense of peace.
At the start of the story, Strayed bottomed-out. Her mother was dead, her siblings were scattered, she was recently divorced, and had a minor affair with drugs. Not exactly the description of a world-class hiker? But in a way it is. People hike for personal, internal reasons. As Strayed hiked along the trail, she encountered many different kinds of hikers. The Eagle Scout. The Honeymooners. The Adventurer. She didn’t consider herself among them, until near the end of her hike from southern California up to Oregon. Nothing made her any different from her fellow hikers. They were one. They each encountered their own struggles on the trail, but still, they survived. They conquered. They endured.
An aside, I loved the brief mention of Mt. Whitney in southern California. This past summer I had the chance to visit the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York where this painting was on display:
Mt. Whitney. Albert Bierstadt.
The image doesn’t do the actual painting justice. I hope to see this site in reality someday.
Strayed included this quote:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”
– Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”
I have an idea for mine. What do you plan to do with yours?
Thumbs: 2 out of 2.