Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Reading Notes 4/52: January

4/52 Cheryl Strayed Wild. From Lost to Found on The Pacific Crest Trail (2012). I read the book in Finnish. I have seen the movie Wild that is based on this book several years ago. I loved the story about a woman who decides to clear her head from past experiences and quilt by taking an enormous challenge to walk 1770 km part of the Pacific Crest Trail. Book is based on a true story and it's writer has really experienced what is described in the story.

Following might contain some spoilers! When reading the book it was easy to live through the hardships Cheryl confronts on her journey. I felt exhausted like I would have walked tens of kilometers every day even though I was reading in my own sofa. She also describes food cravings like only a person who has had hard physical exercise can picture them. I don't even like hamburgers, chips and soda that much but walking the path with Cheryl I felt huge appetite for those things. 

The story is cathartic. During her walk she memorizes the hardships and difficult moments she has had in her life and walks those memories away. First she tries to make herself unbreakable, amazon queen, that survives everything and never cries. When the journey goes on she learns a different approach to live her life and see her past. Instead of seeing her past  as a series of mistakes and unmoral behavior she questions whether these actions are actually the ones that brought her here. Maybe there is no need to remember, ponder and feel quilt about things that have already happened. It is easy to compare oneself to others and their righteous life but actually the point is to accept one's own life as it is and abandon the thought about right ways of doing things. I began to think about the essence of life and how we consume our precious moments here. Is it actually possible to live life without wasting it? Always choosing what is accepted and morally right? Or is the essence of life to sometimes live wrong, waste time for actions that take us behind in the personal progress, ponder old things we cannot change, be still and stuck. Like Boris Pasternak writes in Doctor Zhivago: "Life is no stroll through a field". It might be unnecessary to try to wipe away bad choices as those are part of the life anyways. 

People's lives always seem more genuine, better, real and righteous. It feels like people move forward and put effort on things that make them accomplish their goals. Like how do they get everything right when it takes so much time for me to get one part of the life functioning? After all we know little about the people around us and their deepest wishes. Some might have the best life ever when you look at it but that person actually would like a totally different life. Maybe their dream job, partner and house are not what they really want in life. Even the happiest of people are ordinary and lost sometimes.

During the journey Cheryl also goes through her relationship with her mother who died young. Her mother's life had been tough and ended before she could fulfill her dreams. Cheryl's mother says on her death bed that she never got to be herself but only obeyed the wishes of others. Parents are somehow examples of the possibilities in life even though you would choose a totally different lifestyle than theirs. After all we mirror our choices to those of our parents. It is difficult task to find a balance in your own life after an experience like Cheryl's. It sort of pushes you to do over your limits to live your own life without wasting it.

Reading Strayed's life story was purifying. In the book she lets go from her heavy backpack also mentally by accepting her life and letting herself to put behind bad memories and phases of life. The most important thing is to head to the future as a person you have become and make choices that represent you not anybody else.

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