There’s been much ado about the new memoir Wild by Portland-based author Cheryl Strayed (it just hit bookshelves, and Reese Witherspoon’s about to star in the film adaptation). The book describes Strayed’s life-altering experience of hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, solo, from the Mexican border to the edge of Oregon and Washington, following the death of her mother and divorce from her husband.
Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail. Photo Credit: Serena Becker
Being that the PCT pretty much cuts through my backyard, and being that I’m a huge proponent of using arduous physical activity to overcome fraught emotional states, I immediately procured a hardback version of Wild to see what all the fuss was about.
Now, I wouldn’t call the book a work of literary genius, but it definitely strikes a chord.
Strayed is really human—she doesn’t pull any punches about anything, from her own physical prowess (or lack thereof) to the ways in which she’s eff’ed up her life. But that’s kinda what the book is about, coming to terms with your frailties, and then mustering the strength to get on with it.
Other things that, in my opinion, were movingly communicated by Wild:
How to us regular folk, extreme solitude can be disturbing, but it’s also ultimately therapeutic.
“Each evening, I ached for the shelter of my tent, for the smallest sense that something was shielding me from the entire rest of the world, keeping me safe not from danger, but from vastness itself.”
How moving at the pace of our own locomotion affords a hugely different, maybe more human perspective on the world around us.
“If I made it to the Oregon-Washington border, I knew it would only be with all the hardships that moving at foot speed beneath a monster of a pack entailed. The PCT had taught me what a mile was. I was humble before each and every one.”
How the unquantifiable magic of the natural world can fill us up and heal us.
“I stared out over the land in a demolished rapture, too tired to even rise and walk to my tent, watching the sky darken. Above me, the moon rose bright, and below me, far in the distance, the lights in the towns of Inyokern and Ridgecrest twinkled on. The silence was tremendous. The absence felt like a weight. This is what I came for, I thought. This is what I got.”
Wild is available on amazon.com in hardcover for $16.99 and on Kindle for $12.99
Watch the book trailer
Tags: book review