Is this based on a true story? she asked in mild disbelief as she stroked the cover of my lightly worn novel. She was holding my copy of Wild By Cheryl Strayed, which I had just finished reading moments earlier.
Yes, I replied in confirmation of her suspicions.
Wow. Would you ever consider doing something like that? Her eyes didn’t leave the cover of the book as she asked me. It was a newer cover, which pictured Reese Witherspoon dressed in a hiker’s regalia, standing in front of an outdoor, mountainous scene.
I would love to do something like that, although I don’t think I could ever take three months out of my life to do it.
That was my short answer, and I didn’t want to elaborate. The long answer is that I had, in fact, daydreamed about a long “soul searching,” lifetime defining adventure since the moment I opened the book a few weeks earlier.
Like Cheryl, I feel lost. Maybe not to the same extent that she describes in her memoir of her PCT hike, but definitely in a very similar way. I find that I am always asking myself why I do what I do, or how it is that I’ve ended up where I am. And the problem I have is that I never completely come to a conclusion on the answer to these questions.
Throughout the novel, I felt that I could completely identify with Cheryl when she explained why she needed to embark on such a long and physically demanding hike. To be alone with ones self is something that rarely happens anymore. To push yourself to the extremes of what you are capable of, especially when you don’t even know if you can do it – there is something inexplicably enticing about that thought. On a much smaller scale, my recent half-marathon was very much an adventure that I wasn’t sure I could do, but I that I knew I needed to do, regardless. If I could take the many different feelings and emotions that I experienced with the completion of my run, and multiply them innumerably, I imagine that might come close to what Cheryl experienced during and at the completion of her adventure. There is a part of me, deep inside somewhere, that is craving for that experience.
I left the book with my Mother-in-Law, as he seemed captivated and interested to read it. I wonder if she’ll have the same emotional reaction to the story that I did. I am skeptical, but I figured she deserved a chance. Before the moment was over though, I asked to make sure I would get the book back. I don’t usually care about lending books out. This book, however, I know I’ll need it back.