Tonight I had the utmost pleasure of finishing the book I started reading earlier this week: Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
I don’t know if I’ve been ever more impressed, encouraged and strengthened by a story. Before I give you my reaction and dissection of the novel, here’s a trailer for it that pretty much sums up the plot of the book better than I could.
God, did this book make me cry. She talks about her mom and the way it was written (or maybe I’m overly empathetic) just made me relate in such a way that I bawled. They had to shoot her mom’s horse…I bawled more.
That was just the beginning.
She starts this hike on a whim. I’ve been hiking recently, and from what she describes, there is no way in HELL I would be able to accomplish what she has. She is a human miracle. She had never hiked a day in her life, over-packed and was alone. The alone thing I could handle. On spring break I realized I was so stunningly out of shape that hiking for a day made me miserable at points. I was only carrying a small backpack. She was carrying all of her equipment to survive on her back. Across two states (California should probably count as three on it’s own, though).
I understand why she needed to do it though. Part of me really hopes to kind of do something like this when I go to Melbourne. I plan to travel a lot on my own to various state parks, and do hiking and camping and such. I don’t think I’ll really be attempting to climb from a pit in my life, but I think it will open my eyes a lot and help me clear my head of a lot of things that have been there recently and others that have lurked for too long.
Cheryl didn’t really stay in touch with all of those who impacted her along the trail. I found that a little surprising. They changed her life (or contributed to a change) so radically that I couldn’t imagine connecting with people like she did and not staying in even remote contact with them.
Wild was amazing. I couldn’t put it down. While I didn’t blow off important homework for it, I certainly looked forward to reading it until one in the morning every night. I aspire to have the strength she does. I hope one day even one person admires me the way I admire her. When I say strength, I should clarify that I don’t only mean physical strength. Losing six toenails and getting blisters and bruises on every inch of her body had to be trying.
But she stayed on the trail. She kept moving forward when she was suffering – when she absolutely didn’t have to keep going. Maybe she took some detours for safety reasons or if something pushed her in a different direction, but she stayed on track (in general). She didn’t quit until she knew her journey was complete. I think that’s totally admirable.
She plugged in tiny little factual details that I loved. Just when you thought you were really getting into her memoir, she would break into the geology of the region (which, naturally, I reveled in) or some random study that some guy did once that is related kind of to what she was talking about. I thought it was fantastic, because that is entirely too close to how my brain works. It was whimsical, and I very much enjoyed it.
I have 2 books I’m reading soon. I don’t know which will be first. They are West with the Night and High Endeavors. Both were recommended to me by a past professor.
Another interesting thing I just realized; aside from my Conde Nast Traveller book, all of the travelogues I have read have been written by or about females. I wonder if that has any impact on how I relate to them…