how wild it was, to let it be.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

i'm quite the meticulous reader. i like to make sure i read every. single. word. and so, i end up going back and re-reading pages a lot, and hence, take a rather long time to finish a book {at least that's one of the reasons}. i'm also somewhat of a book juggler. i like to have multiple going at once, which often times leaves me a third of the way through for months. exhibit a, gone girl. yes, guilty as charged, still trucking {many have taken priority!}.

anyhow, cheryl strayed's wild was one that took {a short} three months to finish {lots of plane rides this summer!}. cheryl is one of my favorite writers of all time as you might remember from when i saw her in person and when i gushed about her other book. in wild, she tells her story of hiking the pacific crest trail from california to oregon alone while she was twenty six. it's an unfathomable journey and yet she makes it seem achievable, as i felt like i was with her every step {literally} of the way, waiting to see how it would all unfold. she's an inspiration, and while my {new york} adventure is much less scary than hers, i couldn't help but find a few parallels along the way.

i thought i'd share some of my favorite quotes that left me in awe of her words.
i knew that if i allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so i chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. i decided i was safe. i was strong. i was brave. nothing could vanquish me. insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked. every time i heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, i pushed it away. i simply did not let myself become afraid. fear begets fear. power begets power. i willed myself to beget power. and it wasn't long before i wasn't afraid. 

and, as part of her last chapter, a good life lesson...
it was the the dream of a common language. i'd carried it all this way, though i hadn't opened it since that first night on the trail. i hadn't needed to. i knew what it said. its lines had run all summer through the mix-tape radio station in my head, fragments from various poems or sometimes the title of the book itself, which was also a line from a poem: a dream of a common language. i opened the book and paged through it, leaning forward so i could see the words by the firelight. i read a line or two from a dozen or so of the poems, each of them so familiar they gave me a strange sort of comfort. i'd chanted those lines silently through the days while i hiked. often, i didn't know exactly what they meant, yet there was another way in which i knew their meaning entirely, as if it were all before me and yet out of my grasp, their meaning like a fish just beneath the surface of the water that i tried to catch with my bare hands - so close and present and belonging to me - until i reached for it and it flashed away.  
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. 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 irrevocable and sacred. so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. how wild it was, to let it be. 
she learned to let it be. to accept what was and trust her life exactly as it was. let that be a lesson for all of us. it's a must-read, my friends!

p.s. they are making a movie and reese witherspoon is starring as cheryl!


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