For Christmas my sister gave me the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I have no idea why I hadn’t heard about it before receiving it, for it is totally a book that I would have chosen for myself. Thankfully my sister knows that and created the connection that was definitely meant to be. I am only 1/4 of the way through and can’t stop thinking about since I picked it up for so many different reasons. One reason that stands out is that I am actually envious of the backpacking journey that Cheryl went on back in 1995. It sounds grueling, mentally and physically, but yet at the same time it sounds so attractive for those same thoughts. Crazy I know. Maybe I too am longing for such an opportunity to escape (temporarily) as if going through such hardship will allow me to bring back greater clarity and wisdom to my life. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I know I don’t have to go through such hardship to start addressing things here and now. Somehow I need to find the faith that is within and let it guide me forward.
I was also riveted with Cheryl’s relationship with her mom, especially in the last months/weeks of her mom’s life. Although I currently have a good relationship with my mom, it is not close or free like the relationship Cheryl had with hers. There is too much history and differences in place to really change the course of our relationship but as a mother myself I am committed to forging a closer bond with London than I have with mine. The challenge I see is trying to develop a healthy intimacy between London and I over what will hopefully be the many years to come while giving her the skills to overcome life challenges. In Cheryl’s case, her love and dependency on her mom was so great that when her mom passed away it made her lose her way and took her off course. Not many people can go off course like Cheryl did and come out the other end relatively intact. In the end, I want the best of both worlds for London, to develop a mother-daughter love that is so strong and fierce that I can play a pivotal role in her life but one that doesn’t drive her off course in a destructive way should she bump into a roadblock or obstacle.
In an interview that Cheryl gave while recently promoting her book, she provided a great comment in response to one posed to her that alluded to her overnight success….”My success this year is built on a million smaller successes — things like the fact that I found my way to college and stayed. That I kept writing when it would have made sense for me to be more practical about how to earn a living.” It is interesting that all of us are leading lives with millions of smaller successes and how some people are so resolute in the path they should be leading. I am not sure if it is simply faith but rather a combination of things – faith, trust, hope and love. I know in my life I have almost always taken the safest most practical route based on what I should be doing. If I want a big life, I need to take some risks and get over the fear of failing.