Thursday, January 8, 2015

Reading: An Inspired Walk

I am sure you all have either heard of, read or seen Wild *. This book seems to be everywhere and with the Reese Witherspoon movie out in theaters, I am sure millions of people will see Cheryl Strayed's story.  I love Reese, she is from my hometown and is my hair crush. However, I wanted to read the actual words written by the girl who walked the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) alone.


I am a fan of hiking. After a brief hiatus when the kids were whiny and made for a very painful  hike, I am back. Steve and I hiked a lot this fall and the girls were up for several long hikes as well. However, I am a ninny. I am afraid. Yes, I truly am afraid of hiking by myself. Mostly because I have read too many books about girls getting attacked.  The wild animals don't scare me. The wild people do.

So, I was very curious to read what experiences Cheryl had out in the woods for months. Was she like me, afraid of the people? Was she afraid of the animals? Was she afraid at all? What I learned was that she was damaged and looking to redeem herself to, well, herself. She did not give much thought to what she would encounter in the wild. Instead, she read a book. Exactly what I would have done. Read and relied on my own education to plan something epic. Based on what she read, she overpacked a backpack, prepared drop boxes to be sent to her along the trail to replenish food, supplies and books, and set off to find herself.

I won't spoil the book by telling you what happens other than she has an amazing adventure full of people (both wild and tame) and animals (snakes, lots of snakes!) , traveling across desert and mountains, summer and snow that will make anyone who like the outdoors jealous. However,  I will share that I identified with much of her interior dialogue. The tedious hiking brought out not tears or really even answers, but deeply ingrained jingles and old songs. Exactly what happens when I start to meditate when I am running, skiing or hiking alone. Weird things come to the surface and Cheryl had a fair share of those. I think for me, and maybe her, they are the defense mechanisms we use to keep us away from the painful thoughts and memories. She also got a good view  those as well, finding out  what  really was inside her mind and heart. Everyone has scars from childhood or wounds from relationships. We all carry things around. What would a walk of 1,000 miles bring to your surface?

Wild is a book about a person finding themselves, not a book of self pity or running away from life. Instead it is about a woman taking control of her life in a big way and walking towards the truth. Reading it did not inspire me to walk the AT like my hair dresser does every year. Instead it inspired me to hike 50 hikes this year. To reach for that peace I get from being out in God's creation, away from the noise and the distractions and to listen to my inner self.

*The actual name of the book is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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