Thursday, November 12, 2015

Live Wild and True

As she watched her boot tumble off the cliff, she felt a loss of hope. She ripped off her other odorous, mangled boot and chucked it over the ledge to join its companion.

 She let out a scream, a scream that shook the mountains. It was her way of saying f-you to the obstacles that have stood in her way. A big, fat f-you to all the belittling aspects of life.

To live wild and true is a task that not many succeed.

Cheryl Strayed was a troubled and lost soul. She had lost her mother to cancer, struggled with a drug addiction, went through divorce, and completely lost herself.

Then, in the check-out isle of a store, a book grabber her attention. A book about the Pacific Crest Trail, a trail that lays all the way from Mexico to Canada. This book spiked her interest enough to invest in the hiking essentials, sell her belongings, and hitchhike her way to the edge of the PCT to take on the adventure of a lifetime. 

We all come across something, or more than one thing, in life that sets a fire in our hearts. That tells us to get out of bed and GO!

The book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed was one of these life altering factors for me. This woman is an inspiration to human beings worldwide.

Cheryl wrote the book in tiny abandoned cabin in Lake County’s Paisley, Oregon; just a few miles from my home town of Lakeview. Last spring, Cheryl made a trip back to Lakeview to do a reading of her book at the Lake County Library, which is literally two blocks from my house.

I did not attend the reading and book signing, but after hearing the uproar of positivity and inspiration she imprinted on my community, it pushed me to read her book. And it was the opposite of a mistake. 

This woman set out on a journey all on her own. A journey in which she had zero experience in, but she packed up and went anyway, having faith in herself and her strength.

Her trek did not come without a few bumps and bruises. She questioned her ability and her sanity at many different points, but her determination is what kept her pushing on. 

In 2014, Cheryl's book was made into a film. Her role was played by Reese Witherspoon. New York Times said, "Wild may be full of natural beauty but it is also a celebration of the power of art."

This movie was a work of art. Cheryl worked along side Jean Mark Vallee to help sculpt the film.

There were several changes to the timeline of her journey, but never once did they shine away from her story. In the book, she told her upbringing before we followed her onto the trail, with bits and pieces of her memory showing up as we hiked. In the movie, we started on the trail, and we were shown her past through her memories.

To some, this might come as annoying due to the fact that it's not "by the book", but producers do this type of alterations to keep us drawn into the story.

In no way did I think this movie was a poor reflection of Cheryl's miraculous tale. Of course there were portions from the book that I wish they would have put in, but producers can't please everyone.

Reese Witherspoon played my depiction of Cheryl to a T. She was scared, heart broken, and hopeful. She was nominated for an Academy Award this year for best actress in "Wild." She deserved this recognition.

With the movie twisting the story line up a bit, I think this affected the audience as well. The book was slow, and raw. We anticipated her every marching step and heaving breath. The film didn't necessarily take that away, but we saw it in another way.

The movie was directed to grasp a younger audience. To inspire the viewers that are around my own age. To inspire us to be like Cheryl. If they would have made this movie as slow paced as the book, then it wouldn't have gotten the same reaction.

Movie Cheryl walked and reflected on all of her life choices that guided her to that moment, and I feel as of us, as college students, can relate to that very closely. We, like Cheryl, are just trying to figure our shit out. We are walking along our own trail, burying our mistakes in the dust we leave behind.

"It was my life- like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be."


"Wild"- Book: 2012, Movie:2014
Actress: Reese Witherspoon
Writer: Cheryl Strayed
Rating: Book 5 Stars, Movie 5 Stars

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