I just finished watching the movie “Wild” based on the book by Cheryl Strayed. I must say that I cried a lot more than I ever have in watching a movie. Even in the most tragic love stories I have read and watched in movie form, this one got me the most. Perhaps because even in reading the book, I was excited and horrified by the risks Cheryl took on her hike. It was her way of sloughing off her past and stripping her life bare in order to begin again. I applaud anyone willing to split open their life to this sort of truth, torture and trial in order to really have a personal come to Jesus meeting.
In her own way, Cheryl exposes her “id” or her darkest basic instinct of impulse gratification. Most of us simply go shopping and charge an outfit we can’t afford…beating ourselves up later as we try to pay it off. But Strayed goes all out, walking away from a drug-induced sexual absence from the grief of living her life without her mother and into a journey across the Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT).
This complete trail is 2,663 miles covering four states from California and ending in Canada. This national scenic trail proves to be one of the most rigorous adventures a hiker can take because it includes desert, mountains, and variables of weather conditions that can challenge any experienced hiker.
Cheryl Strayed was not an experienced hiker and had no idea what she was getting herself into when she started on the trail, but her emotional journey is represented well by Reese Witherspoon who plays Cheryl in the movie.
While Cheryl walked 1,100 miles on the PCT over 94 days. Bloody feet, scrapes and injuries to her body are all described in the book and shown in the movie. The adventure and the beauty of the wilderness was a character in this story, but her real journey was through her narrated thoughts on screen with deep revelations of grief and self-loathing.
The reader walks with Cheryl by the second day, wondering how she will cope. Her cursing and talking to herself in the desert awakens parts of the reader through revelations like, “I felt that way once.” I cried with her in grieving her mother as she wept alone on the trail, fallen to her knees. I was there a couple of times in my life, on my knees. There is something for anyone who has experienced loss in their lives or have had problems coping with life. Her bag, known as “monster” because of it’s doubling her size upon her back, carried her necessities and lots of other crap she didn’t need.
As her emotional load got lighter in the movie, so did Monster. It was purged several times, scream by scream. And by the end, although it was still twice her size, she had built the callouses to carry it’s weight well, and she had come to understand that it was her choice to carry it forever, or to leave it behind.