I just finished reading Wild by Cheryl Stayed. It wasn’t a book I was going to read, despite the hype, until I read Dear Sugar last year, a compilation of advice columns written by Strayed under the pseudonym Sugar. I like her and I was touched by a lot of what she said, so I bought a copy of Wild and I am so very glad I did.
When I was 22 I graduated from college and it took my two months to find a job in my field. When I did find one, it was in Alberta, three provinces away from home. I took it, my mom signed over the car I had been driving to me, and I took off across the country by myself. I had maps and a budget and lots of advice, but no real itinerary and no real idea of what I was getting myself into.
Reading the final pages of Wild brought me right back to that place. Just as Cheryl sat, wondering if she was ready to be done hiking, to be where she was going, and cried I pulled over on the side of the highway to cry just before finally reaching my destination.
I didn’t test my physical strength the way she did, and I didn’t expose myself to the elements, but I set out on a journey that I wasn’t entirely prepared for and I got the chance to do it by myself. When I think back on that time I can only be glad that I did such a thing.
I got to see my country in a way I never had before. I got to spend time with my own thoughts, taking care of my own needs and doing nothing else. Like Strayed, if I were to meet someone thinking about doing something similar I would absolutely recommend it.
I do wish that I had spent more time in my life in nature. Her writing makes me long to have experiences at the tops of mountains or beside great lakes. When I do spent short amounts of time in nature I feel tuned in, quiet, relaxed, but I also have a fear of discomfort that Cheryl had to give up over miles walked. I have never put my body to the test like that. I fear it, which makes me want to do it even more.
I want to test myself. I want to withstand the pain and push myself through.