Thursday, July 26, 2012


My book club just read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and if I'm going to be punny here like I want to, I will tell you how wild I am about it.

Basic story: 20-something girl loses her mother, tears apart her marriage, gets into a habit of drugs and sex, then decides to change it all, drop everything and hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

It's so much more than that. Cheryl is a woman whose mother dies of cancer very suddenly (7 weeks from finding out to the end). After that, she is angry and broken and becomes self-destructive. She cheats on her husband, does heroin, and actively makes poor choices. One day, she sees a guide book to hiking the PCT in a book store, and the idea sticks with her.

She decides she will hike part of the roughly 2,500 mile-long treacherous trail that spans the West Coast from Mexico to Canada. Without any prior experience in hiking, she packs up a monstrous backpack and hits the trail. 

While she faces the very physical and immediate needs of being on the trail, she goes through a mental healing of sorts, though unaware of it at the time.

The book has funny anecdotes, face-offs with wild animals, lost toenails, friendly and shady encounters with other hikers, descriptions of nature and what it's like to hike for months, all the while interweaving heartbreaking stories of her self and past to form a cohesive, inspiring story of losing it all, then piecing it back together.

Cheryl uses beautiful imagery and stories of her trip to paint a greater picture of life and its meanings:

"This [Crater Lake] was once a mountain that stood nearly 12,000 feet tall and then had its heart removed. This was once a wasteland of lava and pumice and ash. This was once an empty bowl that took hundreds of years to fill. But hard as I tried, I couldn't see them in my mind's eye. Not the mountain or the wasteland or the empty bowl. They simply were not there anymore. There was only the stillness and silence of that water: what a mountain and a wasteland and an empty bowl turned into after the healing began."

A few years ago, I was at a very low point in my life, although I had not really lost much but a young love who was all wrong for me. I started doing yoga and it became my coping mechanism, although I wasn't totally aware of it at the time. Even though it wasn't a season-long journey that engrossed me 24/7, it was a moment of my unbearable day when the physical demands and immediate requirements coerced me into letting go of my mental mind games. Eventually, I pieced myself back together, one asana at a time.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book. Yoga has definitely helped me too. I'm so glad it helped you!


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