Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: Wild

I just read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild about her three-month journey on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995, what led her there, what kept her there, and the growth and healing found through her near thousand-mile walk.

It’s full of contradictions that mutually reside in us and around us. In this way we bear witness, along with Cheryl, to feelings of emptiness in a vast world, and the vastness felt in one devoid of excesses.

Cheryl captures the hardship, beauty, wonder, and guts of a long distance hike. She is brave. She is flawed. Best of all, she speaks authentically about all of it, stripping down the complexities of her life and her decisions so we can ache in her loss, feel nostalgia for relationships past, and understand her steadfastness in hiking alone.

I found myself thinking she repeats herself sometimes with some of the story's elements, but that is easily forgivable because of the intricate web she cast to lead us between life on the trail and life before the hike.

* * *

I gobbled this book up. I read half Friday afternoon and evening. I read the remainder on Sunday, but all Saturday I held the book in my hands as I visited with family, wishing for the time to step back on the trail with Cheryl to see where her adventure would take us next.

Before I opened the cover of Wild on Friday, I wrote in my journal about my confusion and despair about the day – of feeling overwhelmed with life’s purpose, creative vision, and too many competing business ideas.

"So I sit in this stew of discontent. Unable to decide if I should read a book on hiking that will either a) drive me out of my home and on a single-minded vision to hike the better part of this year b) make me compulsively wonder how I can start to write about my own backpacking pursuits, or c) send me spiraling into depression for the fear that I’ll never write my story nor have the fiscal resources to do that kind of travel this year."

I want to thank my hiking buddy Morph who brought me Wild as a gift when he came to visit last month. You’re right; I enjoyed it a lot!

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