August 2014 Book of the Month
While in Block Island, Chelsea and I enjoyed a mini-book club together. Our book of choice: Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
Admittedly, Wild is more of a Chelsea kind of book. Not only am I not much of an outdoors woman myself, the idea of “finding oneself” while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail struck me as a bold and somewhat outlandish goal. Finding “truth” via physical suffering has always struck me as a misguided effort. And while I am a lover of nature, I don’t need to get super up close and personal with bears, snakes and snowy ice caps to appreciate their existence. Despite my initial misgivings, Cheryl’s story proved to be completely captivating. Not only was I riveted by her physical bravery, I found her emotional honesty to be profoundly compelling.
The strength of Strayed’s story lies in her natural curiosity to understand the meaning of her life. From her first steps on the trail, it is clear Cheryl is on a mission. A mission to beat back her personal demons, come to terms with her grief and eventually restart her life on more solid ground. The PCT quickly becomes a metaphorical backdrop as Cheryl recounts the details of her first 25 years of living. And while it is clear she has been touched by love and kindness, there is no doubt she has suffered much along the way. The humbling experience of walking the trail – mostly in isolation – provides Cheryl the solace she craved along with a deepening appreciate for her own internal strength and knowingness.
While I am still pretty sure I don’t want to hike the PCT, the vicarious joy of suffering through it with Cheryl will remain an inspiring memory. Chelsea and I shared a box a tissues while muscling our way through this one. Gave us lots to discuss, share and reflect on while enjoying our own mini-adventure together.