Field Trip: Wild the Movie

Ed & I saw Wild last week. I was skeptical about this movie. I read the book when it was first released, back in March 2012 and it is so close to my heart. I never know what to expect when a book is adapted to a film, but fortunately, this movie delivered and Reece Witherspoon did a wonderful job portraying one of my heroes, Cheryl Strayed.

In March 2012, my life was about to change forever. The universe was about to take one of my legs out from under me, but, little did I know, it was sending me small guides along the way to act as a crutch on the journey.  Looking back, I know realize how many things had been set into motion before this month, in preparation. An unplanned trip to the bookstore was one of them.

I was drawn to this book on a random Barnes & Noble trip, when it was first released. I saw it on the new release table and a quick read of the cover drew me right in. It was about a young woman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone. I was sold. I have hiked small portions of this trail and I am determined one day to hike it in it’s entirety. Reading as much as I can about the trail can only help, right?

The book and movie did an accurate job of portraying the backpackers plight. I remember the first moments I put on my too heavy backpack, for my first trip into the wilderness and thinking “I can NOT do this.” I remember those first agonizing steps and thinking, “whose fucking idea was this?!” I also remember the freedom I found on that trail. I found freedom from fear and attachment. All I had to help me survive was on my back and that is a pretty cool feeling.

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my first backpacking trip, in the Rocky Mountains

This book was about SO much more than information about the trail (although she did provide that). Cheryl Strayed loses her mother when she is in her early 20s and this seems to be the triggering event that sets off her life into an uncontrollable, downward spiral.

Cheryl Strayed gave me an excellent road map for what it was going to be like to lose a parent as a young adult. I was reading this book on the evening of March 28th, 2012. In the section I was reading, Cheryl had just lost her mother and was describing the heart wrenching aftermath. I remember it shaking me up and offering silent gratitude that my parents were still living.

At that very moment, my dad was taking his last breaths.

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I found out a few hours later that my father had been the victim of a homicide, and I had lost him to an act of violence. Over the next week of shock, disbelief and chaos, Wild kept starring at me.

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I was absolutely terrified to open that book. I knew it was going to force me to face feelings I was not ready to face. I also knew, I needed to face them and ready or not, I did.

Cheryl Strayed helped me to start to grieve. She laid out the trail for me, showed me what it was going to be lost. The feelings of loss, of being lost, of anger, of gut-wrenching sadness. She showed me what was coming and I will always be grateful for that.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

“The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so. If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.”

As a former conservative Catholic, I LOVED THIS STORY!  In the past, I would have compared, judged and dismissed Cheryl Strayed as a lost soul.  If I hadn’t evolved my spiritual beliefs, I would have missed a real good story.  What attracted me the most about this brave woman was the unconventional way she reached her truth.

Life can happen at any moment, and where ever we find ourselves along the journey is how we’ll respond to any given situation.  Cheryl’s mom died while she was still young and the way she responded was to throw caution to the wind: she slept with random strangers, divorced her husband and even tried heroin.  This definitely is not the best way of dealing with ones issues but I understand why she went to the extreme in trying to understand what was going on around her.

Life is not easy; it has many twists and turns that can either be positive or negative.  One of the things I’ve learned through spirituality is that God cannot take away the negative – no matter how much I want to pray it away.  Slowly, as I start to trust in the idea of free willI’m starting to see that the whole mentality behind the devil made me do it is really a lack of personal responsibility.  But there are many roads that lead to truth and Cheryl Strayed’s journey is just one of many.

Peace,
Ed