A Journey From Lost To Found
Not many books have me crying by page 24 but Wild by Cheryl Strayed certainly did.
Cheryl Strayed is a woman on a journey, one about determination, life and finding yourself. In Wild, Cheryl captures love, family, friends, relationships and accounts of loss, both mentally and physically, in a way that takes one to hell and back with mixed emotions. At the end of Wild I was left feeling exhilarated, empowered and in awe of this woman's strength and commitment. If Cheryl Strayed can walk eleven hundred miles alone then my goals in life can also be
'At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed though she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family grew apart and her marriage soon crumbled. With seemingly nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decisions in her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America – from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington State – and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise – a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet.
Strayed's account captures the agonies – both physical and mental – of her incredible journey; hit it maddened and terrified her, and how, ultimately, it healed her. Wild is a brutal memoir of survival, grief and redemption; a searing portrayal of life at its lowest ebb and at its highest tide.'
Cheryl Strayed writes with consistent flow and humor yet provides seriousness to the reality of life. At times she is able to laugh at, and with, herself and the ridiculousness of her life and thoughts. You see her as a 'normal' woman with thoughts, feelings and impulses that make you realise that we are all only limited to how we see ourselves and what is put in front of us.
“ I scooted over the carpet and situated myself on my rump right in front of my pack, wove my arms through the shoulder straps, and clipped the sternum strap across my chest. I took a deep breath and began rocking back and forth to gain momentum, until finally I hurled myself forward with everything in me and got myself onto my hands and knees. My backpack was no longer on the floor. It was officially attached to me. It still seemed like a Volkswagen Beetle, only now it seemed like a Volkswagen Beetle that was parked on my back. I stayed there for a few moments, trying to get my balance. Slowly, I worked my feet beneath me while simultaneously scaling the metal cooling unit with my hands until I was vertical enough that I could do a dead lift. The frame of the pack squeaked as I rose, it too straining from the tremendous weight. By the time I was standing – which is to say, hunching in a remotely upright position – I was holding the vented metal panell that I'd accidentally ripped loose from the cooling unit in my efforts” (pg 43)
Thus starts the journey of Cheryl Strayed, her 'Volkswagen Beetle' back pack and those she meets.
Wild contains important and thought provoking messages for all. It provides an insight into the way we look at life and those who pass by us, some staying for a long time, others blessing us for only a moment. It made me think about the things I take for granted and had me assessing my life based on the experiences of Cheryl
On page 143 Cheryl writes “That perhaps being amidst the undesecrated beauty of the wilderness meant that I too could be undesecrated, regardless of what I'd lost or what had been taken from me, regardless of the regrettable things I'd done to others or myself or the regrettable things that had been done to me. Of all the things I'd been skeptical about, I didn't feel skeptical about this: the wilderness had a clarity that included me”
Writing on the day before the fourth of July and with certainty that her friends would be having parties and attending parades, Cheryl brings home the reality that we are 'no more or less significant than a single one of the nameless birds in the trees.'
I found myself engrossed in every page and every word that I read. I laughed, I cried and I felt every emotion with Cheryl. Already on Oprah's Book Club 2.0 inaugural selection of books list I would definitely place Wild in the top five of my best read books of 2012. I was never lost whilst reading Wild but definitely found myself by the time I had finished.
Published by Atlantic Books
Available online at: www.allenandunwin.com
review: Jennifer Deaves