wild and finding a way back to the feminist trail

  “I walked and I walked, my mind shifting into a primal gear that was void of anything but forward motion, and I walked until walking became unbearable, until I believed I couldn’t walk even one more step.
And then I ran.”    Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

For anyone currently snowbound, housebound, or bored-bound, read this book and take your mind on an adventure;  an eleven hundred mile, solo hiking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl Strayed.

What an excellent story about journeys – the physical, mental and spiritual kind, the woman versus nature kind, and the mother/daughter relationship kind.

From the perspective of a twenty-six year old, the author recounts her own contemporary, odyssey-like passage into adulthood after her mother dies. She captures the human spirit of a lost, wounded-strong, stupid-smart, solo hiker and all along the way she struggles with being an imperfect-perfect woman. With each step, she fights to discover, embrace and become her true female self. Daily, her survival is threatened by the obstacles of baggage she carries – the weight of her backpack which she nicknames “monster,” and the inner trappings of her own doubts and fears.

From the first page, I found it difficult to put the book down. I was on the trail with her, listening to her thoughts and feeling all of her discomforts. I knew all to well some of her emotions as I remembered trying to figure out the meaning of life as a young woman in my twenties and beyond.

The writing is ‘over the top’ good. So good, that sometimes I had to close the book because I needed a rest!  By the end of the book, I can confess (without apology) that I never want to hike the PCT trail from Mexico to California, Oregon, Canada or anywhere in between! (Maybe I would try a small portion – but that’s it.) The vivid descriptions of the scenery and the deserted and desolate mood of the wilderness got deep inside my head. Respect… for nature, for the power of the universe and for Cheryl’s story made a great impression me.

The book is inspiring. Cheryl is the Billie Jean King of today, and her backpack is the Bobby Riggs “monster” laughably trying to hold women back. Billie Jean conquered fear and doubt on a tennis court – in prime time on national TV in front of millions. She showed us what it could look like to be a strong woman. Her strength inspired girls and women for generations to come.

I think Cheryl Strayed has picked up where BJK left off. With each step she reminds us of our power to define ourselves. When all we can do sometimes is to go forward, we realize that moving ahead is strength in itself. In millions of steps, she conquers the past and present encumbrances of all women by showing us a what a modern day, powerful woman could look like.

I can’t help but think…that’s a good thing for the next generation of girls.

“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

One of my favorite pictures is this photo of a young protester carrying a “girls are strong” sign. This photo was taken during an ERA march demanding equal rights for women in Tacoma, WA, 1982. Perhaps I like it because the girl seems to be skipping (or running) with a determined look on her face. With a sign that appears to have been written by her and a shirt stating “The ERA is for my future” she is, in some ways, a symbolic reminder that fighting for civil rights, whether it’s based on gende
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