WILD by Cheryl Strayed

So far this summer has been reading heavy. I have been fortunate enough to have discovered a string of good books. Wild by Cheryl Strayed may be topping the bestseller lists and need no promotion, but I truly loved this book and felt it deeply.

Of course WILD is selling well because Cheryl wrote an amazing book. She is a strong writer, has written a memoir with great depth and the adventure of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but I connected with this book on many personal levels. Perhaps others are, too.

Cheryl made the decision to hike the PCT seemingly inexplicably at the lowest point in her life. Hers was a physical journey along the trail, but I related to her story deeply having just finished my own journey during what I suppose could be the lowest point of my life. Cheryl had lost her mother to cancer and had ended her marriage to a man she loved but couldn’t be married to. She had engaged in self-destructive behavior and was struggling to find a direction or meaning in her life.

My journey was the two plus years spent in the wake of a long and deeply fulfilling stretch of employment. With no expectation of a change in status, I was suddenly thrust into different circumstances. Shortly thereafter, I, too, lost my mother. Interestingly Cheryl’s mother was named Barbara, but called Bobbie (different spelling though)  like my own. While I did not embark on a long, physically challenging hike, I could relate to much of what Cheryl went through from my own experiences doing the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walks. I may not have been on the trail for 80 days, but with all the training, I had some of the same experience. As I read I often wished I had had the courage and vision Cheryl had, perhaps I should have gone off to hike a trail rather than slog through my journey seated at desk and computer. Would I have gotten to the same end point or perhaps a better one?

It would be tempting to say that Cheryl’s journey ended at the Bridge of the Gods and that my journey ended a few weeks ago when I became re-employed, but, of course, that is not the case. Our lives are made up of many journeys. Some have clear end points, some have physical destinations and others are more internal journeys of discovery. It matters less what form the journey takes and much more what you take from the journey.

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One Comment to “WILD by Cheryl Strayed”

  1. Jenny, I waited to read WILD before reading your post. Just finished the book now. Devoured it is closer to the truth. Thank you for your thoughtful essay about Cheryl’s story. I am grateful to you for recommending WILD when it was published. You were the one who turned me onto it. The author will speak at the Wilton Public Library on August 3. I’ve registered to attend.

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