“It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even from point A to point B…it had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be human in the wild, as long as the wild existed, it would always feel this way.” ~Cheryl Strayed, Wild
I believe that books can change the world. Novels, memoirs, poems, short stories have the unique ability to expose the human spirit, a mirror whose dusty pages reflect the words written within an individual’s soul. Books teach us about everything and anything, you name it, there is a 99.9% chance there is a book about it. But although there are so many books written about so many different things, there is always one thing they have in common: the ability to expose an unexpressed, unexplored humanity. And Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild did just that. Her story of courageously hiking the Pacific Crest Trail inspired me to be brave, to go into the unknown and to take risks.
I read Wild three years ago. In fact I picked it up the summer before I started college, designating college as the time of renewal. When I first picked it up I was unaware of the power of a memoir. Here I am three years later still thinking about the courageous journey Strayed took through the wild. I spent nights awake thinking about what she did, how she started her journey completely different from where she ended. The terrain of the mountains and valleys that she hiked through changed her. Her epiphany, her words, her bravery, I aspired to be her. I saw myself beginning to sneak out of my comfort zone, starting to dip my toe in the pond of life, in the sea of risks.
I think one of my favorite parts of Wild, is when Strayed is describing how she first decided and was graced with the idea to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The mere simplicity of walking into a convince store and spotting a flyer for the trail led her on her amazing journey. I was waiting for that. I wished that summer before college that I’d spot some flyer, or receive some message from the universe, an oracle. I was very impatient, so I wound up forcing and creating obstacles for myself: Study abroad, joining a sorority: I forced the oracle to come, instead of letting life naturally take its course. My perfectionism and denial over my eating disorder made me lose connection with myself. I was so focused on “living” that I wasn’t living, I wasn’t living a life that was for me.
Today, I’m wild in the sense that I’m creating my identity. Without force, without perfectionism. I’m letting allowing life to come naturally to me, trusting that the world knows what is best. I’ve jumped into the sea of risks, the ocean of obstacles. Life without ED is my ticket to be Wild.