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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cheryl Strayed's Wild, have you read it?

My very dear friend Tracy sent me a book as a special gift. When she read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed, a non-fiction memoir, she decided I also needed to have it and sent me a copy.

For the past few nights after I was done working on my computer I got back into the habit of reading. I also cried (a lot), laughed (a little), and felt emotionally wrecked (in a good way) after finishing it this morning. When I say "in a good way" I mean that I've always enjoyed the process of exercising my emotions as in I'd rather experience rapturous joy and the pain of heart breaking despair than spend my life in an emotional purgatory of neutrality. It's a yin/yang kind of thing. Having experienced despair so awful I almost didn't survive it, I've often thought that's why I'm also able to feel sheer joy and elation. One created the opportunity for the other to exist. That was the silver lining of the bad part.

The back of the cover describes the book this way:

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Maybe it's just me but I didn't see the "sparkling with warmth and humor" part. If I were to describe Wild I'd say it was gritty, gutsy, courageous, sometimes fool hardy, and perpetually full of angst. But not in a narcissistic way. Strayed is so vulnerable and eloquent as she describes what she's lost, the mistakes she's made, what hiking the PCT was like, and the realizations she made that I couldn't help but be carried away by her honesty.

While my time with The Glampette hasn't come anywhere close to being as risky, painful, or exhilarating as Strayed's hike was, there is a common thread in the desire to be independent, to be alone, fearless, and being unafraid to search for something that conventional wisdom might tell you not to seek. . . While it seemed like Strayed was running away from her life, in the end she finds forgiveness, courage, acceptance, and herself.

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