I know I’m the last person on the boat to do this, but I am reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
And even though she’s describing losing four toenails, and menstrual sponges, and running out of water and having to drink super gross black fungus-y water, I’ve totally been thinking: Wow, I want my own wilderness experience.
But in reality, I’d probably settle for camping!
My parents often took me camping when I was young, and I have a lot of vivid memories from that. Bathing in a freezing stream. Swimming in a pond and seeing a water snake zip right next to me and flourish away like a ribbon on a stick. My mom telling me to wish upon a star and wishing, harder than I’d ever wished for anything, to wake up the next morning with a ton of My Little Ponies under my tent pillow. (That didn’t happen.)
As I grew older, I became completely not outdoorsy. I had a terrible experience on Mt. Fuji (not even half as bad as some of the things Strayed describes in Wild), and decided I’d never like hiking again after that. The part I often leave out of the story is how, after twelve hours of straight climbing, we got to the top just as the sun rose over the snow and I absolutely cried from awe and exhaustion and accomplishment. But even so, since then…no one has seen me outside much.
Wild is showing me that I may need to rethink that. And how precious would it be to share with V some of the things I experienced as a young child.
While we were in Mexico last week, I was often too busy with V, swimming in the water or traversing across the great distances of the resort, or talking with family while we sat down to dinner, to ever look at my phone. And as it usually happens, being without my phone opened up space for me to think and breathe and unwind. I watched the trees, moved softly by the wind. I saw, like really saw, the colors of the sky deepen and brighten as the sun set. I actually wholly heard the people who were speaking to me. I got a chance to be present in my life.
As always, I want more of that.
Anyway, some dear passages from Wild:
I’d seen a lot of breathtaking sunsets in my evenings on the [Pacific Crest Trail], but this one was more spectacular than any in a while, the light made indistinct, melting into a thousand shades of yellow, pink, orange, and purple over the waves of green land.
There were so many amazing things in this world.
They opened up inside of me like a river. Like I didn’t know I could take a breath and then I breathed. I laughed with the joy of it, and the next moment I was crying my first tears on the PCT. I cried and I cried and I cried. I wasn’t crying because I was happy. I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I wasn’t crying because of my mother or my father or Paul. I was crying because I was full. Of those fifty-some hard days on the trail and the 9,760 days that had come before them too.
I was entering. I was leaving. California streamed behind me like a long silk veil. I didn’t feel like a big fat idiot anymore. And I didn’t feel like a hard-ass motherfucking Amazonian queen. I felt fierce and humble gathered up inside, like I was safe in this world too.