My legs were killing me from walking a few extra laps at the Y yesterday, so I felt like a bit of a baby hobbling into the movie theater to see "Wild." You know, the film based on the true story of author Cheryl Strayed who hiked more than 1,000 miles on the Pacific Coast Highway as she confronted her mother's death, heartbreak, a slide into heroin use and much, much, more.
I'm never going to hike the Pacific Coast Highway. Most of us aren't. (But good job, PR companies, trying to pitch all those "If you loved 'Wild,' you'll love this trail/gear/guide.") Naw, I'm good.
"Wild" is Cheryl Strayed's story. She was brave to make that grueling trek and perhaps even braver to write about it, laying open her pain (and what extraordinarily, relatable pain it is for many women, myself included).
The circumstances of my walk--not the Y one--are different, but there's one thing that many of us can relate to and it's about continuing when your toenails are falling off, perhaps metaphorically. Who hasn't cried out, with a weight that seemingly insurmountable? You don't have to go to the Pacific Coast Highway to get to that point, or to get through it. Cheryl Strayed did.
You gotta find your own path.
I didn't think I would like "Wild," either as a book or a film, but both struck a chord deep within me. In part, because we don't see many stories (certainly not huge Hollywood films) that tell the story of a woman, traveling alone, on a mission.
According to the film's star and producer, Reese Witherspoon, lately Hollywood hasn't been so interested in telling stories about women. From Time/Levo League: "'Other than one studio, literally one, nobody was developing anything with a female lead,' Witherspoon recently told The New York Times."
Huh. Well I am.
We are quick to judge when we learn about people who've made decisions with bad outcomes -- "Well I would never do that." Really? How do you know?
We don't often see stories of pretty girls who make mistakes and own them and swear and struggle and smell a bit when they are on epic journeys. That's one of the reasons I'm cheering for "Wild" at tonight's Golden Globes, and for Reese, and mostly for Cheryl. She walked her Pacific Coast Highway. I know mine. What's yours?
"What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?" -- Cheryl Strayed, Wild