Monday, August 6, 2012

some thoughts on wild

i enjoy reading.  but it seems that i am truly moved by a book only every other year or so.  i don't know if this says something about me or the state of literature.  regardless, since i am an avid reader, this causes me some sadness.  i would like to be moved more often, to be consumed and inspired by another's story.  when i am in the grip of a story that is changing my life, i am at once elated by its presence and mourning its inevitable departure. 

a few days ago i read the last few pages of wild, by cheryl strayed.  it's about a young woman who hikes the pacific crest trail by herself.  i had been reading it for weeks.  i can always tell when i have one of those life changing books in my hands because i move slowly through it, paging back and rereading passages.  i don't want the end to come.  i think about the story throughout my day and wonder what certain characters would do with the details of my life.  i begin to incorporate elements from the story into my life.  books have inspired me to learn and do many many things, from making mexican cocoa to choosing a career.

wild inspired me to go to the woods, to return to walking trails.  in my twenties, i discovered that i loved hiking, but as a single mother i never seemed to find the time to really commit to it.  we've lived thirty minutes from the blue ridge mountains and appalachian trail for eleven years now and just recently started to explore the many amazing mountains, forests and waterfalls that we are blessed to know.

but it's not just about the breathtaking scenery and fresh air.  it's about the solitude that happens on the trail, even when you are hiking with others.  it's about you, small and vulnerable in the woods but powerful beyond measure in spirit.  it's about trusting that something (bigger, better, different, unexpected) is just around the bend.

my words do not do her story justice, so i will use hers:

"it was all unknown to me then, as i sat on that white bench on the day i finished my hike.  everything except the fact that i didn't have to know.  that it was enough to trust that what i'd done was true.  to understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from the dream of a common language that had run through my nights and days.  to believe that i didn't need to reach with my bare hands anymore.  to know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough.  that it was everything.  it was my life--like all lives, mysterious and impeccable and sacred.  so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.

how wild it was, to let it be."