Thursday, March 8, 2018

On Being Wild

Do you remember the TV show, Gilmore Girls? Before a year and a half ago, I wouldn't say that I did. The show was on from 2000 to 2007 - the precise time I was in the midst of losing my mind trying to keep between two and four little humans alive and somewhat healthy. I had two boys, aged two and under, when the show started. There were four children (another boy and then a girl), between the ages of nine and three by the time the show ended. When I sat down to watch TV in those years, it needed to be the type of show that did not require any sort of maintenance of keeping up with story lines. Law & Order and Survivor were my kind of shows back then.

2012. Or was it 2013?
Fast forward a decade and life has gotten somewhat easier in that keeping the children alive no longer requires vigilant monitoring of their every move. Now I sit in wait, cell phone at hand, ready to help solve transportation issues, giving meal suggestions and taking part in discussions on whether or not the unnaturally bent finger requires a trip to the ER or not. And I can watch TV again. Or rather, I can partake in the joy that is known as Netflix.

I am one of those people who like to start things at the beginning. My dear spouse can just pick up watching TV shows wherever they happen to be in a series. I cannot. I need to start at the beginning. I'm like that with book series too. So, Netflix is totally my jam. I've watched more than few entire series of shows while putting in time in my sewing room. Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, Shameless, Grace & Frankie, 13 Reasons Why and, not only Gilmore Girls but also Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.

If you have watched the follow up season to the Gilmore Girls, and I am, in no way, recommending that you do (it was a disappointing reincarnation of the TV show - as I suppose most reincarnations are - and I know some of you will give me grief over this but, you have to admit, I'm not wrong), you will know that the mom, Lorelai, at one point has an existential crisis and decides that she needs to be off by herself for awhile. Her solution is to go be wild. Not wild, as in 'out of control' but be Wild, as in follow in the footsteps of Cheryl Strayed, who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) and wrote a book about her experience.

Before I watched that episode, I had a vague memory of the movie of the same name coming out starring Reese Witherspoon but had had no interest in seeing it for some odd reason as I normally quite enjoy Reese Witherspoon's movies. A memory that stuck with me from Lorelai trying to be Wild was that an important component of the being Wild was that one had to throw their hiking boot over a cliff. Which struck me as odd. I didn't get the joke. I didn't know the inside story, which obviously was nagging at me at some subconscious level over this past year. When I sat down to select books to read for my 2018 26 books in 52 weeks challenge,  something triggered in a small recess of my brain and I included Strayed's memoir of her hiking the PCT.

Not only did I find out about the boot throwing, I found out all about it on page one. And despite having that itch immediately scratched, I couldn't put the book down. I don't normally enjoy these types of memoirs but Cheryl Strayed is a talented author who knows how to carry a narrative. The book is filled with facts about the PCT and the mountains the Trail goes up and over that I never knew I would care to know about but am now glad that I do. She shares details of her past life that are neither flattering or inspiring all the while she is managing to hike some 1100 miles with a ginormously heavy pack on her back.

I found Cheryl's book to be quite endearing. I kinda sorta (and know that I never will) want to hike out in wilderness as she did, carrying all that I need on my back. I'm happy that she did it so I can know, in some sense, what it might be like. I understand some of Cheryl's pain of having lost a mom too soon but I don't know how to feel about the decisions she made in her early adult years. I appreciated how open she was about her fears, her struggles, her selfishness, her uncertainties, her anger. I also appreciated journeying with her as she began to heal from the inside out, as she received generosity from nearly every person she met along the PCT, as she learned more about who she is and how she wanted to be in the world once she arrived at the end of the 1100 miles.

I loved this book. If you want to borrow, just ask. What's next on my list? Something TOTALLY different...A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I kid you not.

No comments:

Post a Comment