As we continue on our literary journey, hiking alongside Cheryl Strayed in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, I’d like to bring you some extra material and hopefully extend your pursuit of the female road narrative beyond the confines of Strayed’s pages. Admittedly, I can fall down the rabbit hole on a lot of subjects but I think doing so in an attempt to provide a more holistic reading experience is a worthy plummet. Along the way I’ve raised some points for you to ponder and meditate on. Let’s jump right in!
More with Cheryl Strayed
Besides some online written reviews, the first press I heard about “Wild” and Strayed’s journey was on one of my favorite radio shows, Q with Jian Ghomeshi. Here, Jian asks some poignant and thoughtful questions…
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Would you hike the Pacific Crest Trail? What do you think Cheryl means when she says she “writes in the company of fear and I’m used to it”?
Cheryl delivers a lovely TEDTalk on Radical Sincerity and explains, “our deepest treasures are buried in the crappy detritus of our life.” This idea was glaringly apparent to me with each passing chapter of her story and reiterated here. What I found so compelling throughout “Wild,” and perhaps you’re picking up on this through the pages as well, was how her physical pain throughout the hike served as a larger metaphor for her emotional pain, so much so, that it became unclear where one ended and the other began. And this is true in her speech here as well. It’s as if she could be talking about hiking 1100 miles or losing her mother at 22 or both…and for some reason I find that so beautiful.
“It was the most heroic thing I had ever done and that suffering was the greatest suffered…Carrying this weight I couldn’t bear; I bore it. Couldn’t live in a world without my mother; I was living in one.”
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What is the most heroic thing you have ever done? Was it physical or emotional?
Setting off into the great unknown as a woman doesn’t have to be scary, it can be empowering. (Plus, Oprah insists she just got a cellphone. *side eye*)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What is the longest stretch of time you’ve spent alone?
Cinematic Renderings of the Female Journey
When reflecting on on-screen odysseys of the feminine nature there are a few forms that come to mind:
Traveling home (NOW)…or with your peers for protection (THEN)…
To escape…when you’re “in trouble”…
When the trail eventually leads to a man…
I’ve watched these movies (multiple times each) and I’m drawn to these journeys and stories, too. Yet, I recognize that these can’t be the only paths. Surely there are other, unpaved roads for we women to pave…and movies we can make about the process. : )
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What film journeys come to mind when you think about a woman on the road? Do they fall into these categories? Why do you think these particular narratives are more palatable to us?
Perhaps you are like me and “Wild” has struck a cord on more counts than just acting as a positive example of a female road narrative. Perhaps, you too have dreams of backpacking far off lands and long distance hiking.
To watch some kick-ass, back-packin’ the world, travelin’ expert ladies; I would recommend checking out the travel show Globe Trekker here. If you’re not feelin’ paying to watch the episodes, I’ve checked out many Globe Trekker DVDs at my local libraries and I think it comes on PBS2 if you got channels and such. They travel all around the world and highlight tips for solo travel. Great for a hearty dose of wanderlust.
To watch some kids KILLIN’ IT on the Appalachian Trail check out this. These three hiked the length of the AT and made 31 awesome webisodes documenting their journey. Their silliness and spirit was moving and inspiring. I hope to tackle future hardships by taking a page from their book–always laughing, humbled by the beauty of nature, drawing on the strength of community and love. Once you watch their first update you’ll probably accidentally binge watch them all…so, sorry about that.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If you could write a road narrative into being RIGHT NOW, what would that journey look like? Where would the road lead?
“I hope you keep walking.” ~Cheryl Strayed