Do you know that feeling when you finish a book and you feel it wedged in your chest? You don’t want it to be over but you also know it’s not over because it’s still weighing on your heart, making you think about your own life, and replaying itself in your mind?
I am wary of reading big bestseller books, often finding I enjoy less “heard-of” books more, but I recently made an exception. To get me through the madness of working in retail throughout the month of December, I decided to read #1 New York Times Bestseller Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It was a gift to myself, returning home from work after being screamed at by customers who wanted our return policy to be different and having credit cards thrown at me with no eye-contact or smiles accompanying the piece of swipeable plastic. I let the world of insane capitalist consumerism fade away as I read Strayed’s autobiographical account of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on a healing pilgrimage when she was twenty-six. I loved walking with her as I read the book. I remembered my own experiences backpacking: smelling the crisp air, re-living the joy that comes from excruciating physical pain and complete exhaustion and utter triumph in physical and spiritual accomplishment.
Upon looking at Crater Lake: “This was once Mazama, I kept reminding myself. This was once a mountain that stood nearly 12,000 feet tall and then had its heart removed. This was once a wasteland of lava and pumice and ash. This was once an empty bowl that took hundreds of years to fill. But hard as I tried, I couldn’t see them in my mind’s eye. Not the mountains or the wasteland or the empty bowl. They simply were not there anymore. There was only the stillness and silence of that water: what a mountain and a wasteland and an empty bowl turned into after the healing began.” –Wild by Cheryl Strayed, page 273
I still have a spinal injury. I can’t go on a long backpacking trip. But I am on a journey of making a wasteland beautiful and filling an empty bowl. What will be my Pacific Crest Trail?