My favorite book this summer, hands-down, is Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Stories about people on the edge who turn to nature for answers resonate with me. I wrote my own memoir Love, Mom: A Mother’s Journey from Loss to Hope in the wake of losing my baby and a big chunk of my healing took place while putting one foot in front of the other on lonely beaches or backcountry trails. Why is walking so linked to healing in stories like Jon Krakaeur’s Into the Wild, Gretel Ehrlich’s The Solace of Open Spaces and Doug Peacock’s Walking It Off: A Veteran’s Chronicle of War and Wilderness?
In those stories I wonder: Could I do that? Am I tough enough? How long could I actually survive without a shower?
When author Cheryl Strayed suffered the double whammy of losing her mother and seeing her marriage crumble, she embarked on a pretty crazy path. A path so self-destructive I wasn’t sure I could keep on reading because part of me felt like, yeah, I could be good friends with someone like Cheryl and it was highly uncomfortable to read about her jumping into such grim situations.
I’m glad I didn’t put the book down. Only by seeing Cheryl sink so low could I understand how hard she would need to climb as a long-distance hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave desert in California to her destination in Oregon at the Bridge of Gods.
Cheryl Strayed’s story made me reflect on how moms like me tend to replay situations in our head and, of course, magnify our parenting and marriage mistakes. She reminded me there’s no mommy manual. Part of the quest to being a good mom is recognizing our goofs and doing it differently the next time around.
Experience is perspective. And nobody gets it from reading a book or hearing a sermon. (Note to self: Don’t expect the kids to really take anything I say to heart until they learn it for themselves.) What you can experience after reading a book like Wild is inspiration to make new goals and tackle new obstacles, no matter where you’re at in life.
My new goal is to see The Bridge of Gods.