Cheryl Strayed (Image Credit: Joni Kabana)
Dear Cheryl Strayed,
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the moment I finished reading your memoir, Wild. Partly because I sat on a plane in-between two large men, sobbing into the sleeves of my sweater while dodging looks of concerned passengers that seemed to say “get this psycho off our flight.” But mostly because your story, above anything else I’ve ever read, captures exactly what it’s like to be human. For many writers, that’s the ultimate dream, and, well, Cheryl Strayed, you nailed it. You presented yourself to the world in the most real and vulnerable light. You are the warrior of love. Your spirit is etched on each page, and your story will transcend generations. Because you told the story so many of us are living each day, women and men around the world no longer feel ashamed of their messy, complicated, so very human life.
When I first finished reading your book, I’m almost ashamed to admit, I was hesitant to share it with others. I felt like you had let me in on a big secret. In my mind, we had become good friends. To share the memoir with my peers meant we no longer shared this secret understanding of one another. Do I sound crazy yet? Probably. But I’m sure you would be happy to know my selfish possessiveness over you and your story was short lived. I’ve passed my copy of Wild around to friends, family and the like. My second copy sits on my nightstand, and, yes, I’ve also downloaded the Kindle version. I practically preach your words like they’re my own. And maybe that’s because, although I’ve never hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, your story feels like my story, and I know I’m not alone. To know debilitating loss, unconditional love, darkness, lightness, wholeness, rawness, complication, hope, forgiveness, and strength are, in a way, the stories we all live. The lessons you learned within each step you took along the trail are very much so the lessons each of us can learn from as we walk along the messy journey known as life.
TDQ readers, if you haven’t read Wild yet, here’s a sneak peak at the words of Strayed. I wouldn’t make a promise I can’t keep, and I can promise you her story will move you. There’s also a good chance you might find a little bit of your story hidden within each page.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story.”
“I’m a free-spirit who never had the balls to be free.”
“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.”
“How wild it was, to let it be.”
“Fear begets fear. Power begets power. I willed myself to beget power. And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”
Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Strayed is also the author of best-selling advice column collection, Tiny Beautiful Things and a novel, Torch. She currently resides in Portland Oregon with her husband and children.
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