An Untethered Life’s Lessons – “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

I recently listened to the audiobook, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. This is the story of a young woman’s journey through the PCT, The Pacific Crest Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada, although Cheryl heads north from California.  Saddened by her mother’s death and unable to cope, Cheryl destroys her happy marriage to a man whom she loves and who loves her back, by cheating on him repeatedly, telling him about her infidelities and announcing she must leave him because it’s something she has to do. There is an absence of anger, only an abundance of love and caring and sadness at the breakup. Why does Cheryl tear a supportive, happy relationship apart? Because she felt she had to.

This is an example of a memoir I liked. Although Cheryl tells  of some occurrences in the her past that bring her to the decision to hike the PCT, Cheryl doesn’t lay blame on others for her choices and decisions. She accepts responsibility for herself despite the tough times and the people who disappointed her. There is no sob story here.

Most often, Cheryl chose to trek alone, but was grateful for the moments of human interaction along the way. Inexperienced as a long distance hiker, Cheryl demonstrates fortitude and courage as she adapts to the changing weather conditions, plods on with aching, blistered, swollen feet with broken and missing toenails caused by ill-fitting hiking boots, ignores bouts of hunger and thirst which is the result of poor planning and insufficient funds and flashbacks to memories of relationships, disappointments and hurts she inflicted on others, as well as those inflicted on her.

I have not seen the movie, but I suspect certain aspects were exaggerated for what movie makers believe will appeal to an audience.

I was struck by some truths expressed in Cheryl’s story.

In flashback, Cheryl tells us how she found it necessary to put down her deceased mother’s horse, Lady.  At Cheryl’s  insistence, and as she and her husband watched,  Cheryl’s brother came with a gun to do the deed. Following Cheryl’s instructions, her brother aimed for the spot between the eyes which was to result in immediate, painless death. It did not. Three more shots were fired, but the horse languished as she thrashed and writhed in pain. Before she fell to her knees, Lady stared,  uncomprehending and accusing,  into the eyes of the humans she loved and who had loved and cared for her for so many years. Betrayed. Shocked. Lady did not expect this. Cheryl correctly concluded that we should never be the ones to take the life of a beloved animal. As we know, animals cannot speak, but they feel love, attachment and betrayal. They have souls  that transcend. We must remember this.

Another interesting point mentioned is that fathers show us how to be warriors in the world – how to ride with strength and courage to face life. If a father’s influence is missing, then our journey throughout life is that much more difficult since we must strive to teach ourselves that necessary lesson.

When referring to my Feb. 21, 2015 blog  post “The Untethered Soul, ” it’s apparent that Cheryl Strayed followed many of the tenets expressed in that philosophy, however unconsciously this was done. Which ones? See the disturbance but we are not the disturbance, our names are our labels and not who we are the experience of our hearts,, we must transcend the tendency toward closing, fear is our lowest vibration, always look up and never look down, success makes a happy psyche, awareness is the way out,  use life experiences to evolve spiritually, let the knowledge that death is inevitable let you live life to the fullest, strive to achieve the Dao – the place of perfect harmony.

Cheryl never mentions “The Untethered Soul” so I assume she did not set out to follow its preachings. Isn’t it ironic that her quest took this same path even though she did not label the steps?  When considering other stories of spiritual quests where the same beliefs are shared, it leads me to believe that these truths are universal, even though they may remain unexpressed and unlabeled or may be labeled with different words. Labels may help us to recognize what we’re seeing, or we might view and understand the action we’re witnessing for the same result. Each of us chooses the path we wish to follow.

© 2015 All rights reserved.

To experience trekking on the Pacific Crest Trail, watch this video:

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