Tuesday, January 28, 2014


From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed.

This book is the true story of the author's search for herself as she treks along the PCT. She does this entirely alone for most of the trip. This is a story of pain. Physical pain. Mental pain. And the devastating heartache and emotional destruction that comes to people who are experiencing life on planet earth.

In a lot of ways I identified with Cheryl Strayed. (Strayed is the surname she chose for herself when she divorced the man she loved after her mother died. There was this space for her to put the name she would change to on the form in the divorce kit. Okay.) I admire her for acknowledging and confronting and honoring her pain and not running from, hiding, or denying her pain. I was raised to "fix my face", to straighten up and carry on like nothing happened which only added an excruciating element of shame to the emotional and physical and psychic pain I've felt in my life. Cheryl Strayed doesn't try to hide her pain; she acts on it in ways that are both liberating and self-destructive.

The PCT offers her desperate hunger and thirst, extreme heat and cold, both ascent and descent which offer different forms of torture to her feet, fatigue and exhaustion, and fear. And yet also exhilaration, beauty, friendship, generosity, and, finally, peace.

I would like to read this book again and find the symbolism in her journey. The relationship between her extraordinarily heavy backpack that she names "Monster" that she carries up and down mountains again and again and without which she cannot continue, and her very real burden of guilt and grief. Between her blistered, bleeding, ruined feet and her broken heart. But the book is due back at the library tomorrow and I don't know when I'll get it back again. I'll remember it for a long time.

This book is full of the mother of all cusswords. Just so you know if you decide to read it yourself.

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