Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Season of Reading - Wild

The Amazon synopsis reads: "Wild is a powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe - and built her back up again.

At 22, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faced down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her."

This book was different than I anticipated.  When I read the description I kind of imagined it more as a learning "how to" on hiking long distances from a now expert and a nod to the perfection of nature and its provision for healing.  However, this was more of an experience with her along every step of her journey and her processing of her life and who she was and how she got to where she was.  She did not glorify her decisions, in fact, she often put down the way that she was.  However, I admired that we was unapologetically herself and that this hike was the way she chose to come to terms with some things about herself and who she had become.  We all have a story that shapes our steps and it was really intriguing to take a look into her's.

I don't know if I agree with the synopsis that she was healed through the journey, but I think as with anything you set out to do alone, she learned a lot about herself.  You really feel the miles with her and the sense of urgency when she has it.  You feel the rest when she gets to the posts along the way and while you know she will make it through, there is always this question of how.  I was inspired by her journey and it made me crave a solo adventure to find myself, even though my problems do not even begin to compare to hers.

A good friend summed it up like this, "Isn't it lovely to trod those miles with her?  To feel the sense of dread when there is too much snow to keep walking or when something breaks?  And accomplishment when she reaches the next stop?  I'd love to go on an adventure."  

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