Cheryl Strayed – Wild!
What brought the name Cheryl Strayed into my life was her book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail published in 2012.
Her most devastating loss was the sudden death of her mother when Cheryl was a senior in college when her mother died from lung cancer at the age of forty-five. “I was twenty-two, the same age she was when she’d been pregnant with me. She was going to leave my life at the same moment that I came into hers.” Cheryl stayed with her mother as much as she could and became her care partner. By the time Cheryl was twenty-seven old, she was divorced, after almost eight years of marriage
Shortly before the official end of the marriage and the shattering of her nuclear family and twenty-six years old, Cheryl, desperate to “find” herself, embarked on her solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Within three weeks of her hike’s onset, she said “everything in me felt altered." All told, she hiked 1,100 miles (the total trail length is 2,650 miles) and always her purpose stayed close to her heart and motivated her to take another step forward: she was seeking self-discovery and resolution hoping this hike would absolve her grief and to accomplish her personal challenges. In the exercise lingo, this is like forced exercise, doing more than you think you can and when it’s over, the accomplishments gained are euphoric, but for most of us, our goal may be summed up in one word: purpose.
With no training, or really any idea of how arduous this hike would be she set off determined to quell her anxieties and she finished her hike two days before her twenty-seventh birthday, a three-month solo trip. It became clear that her marriage was finished too.
Her book became an international sensation and became a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl married filmmaker Brian Lindstrom in 1999 and they are the parents of two children. Her daughter, Bobbi Strayed Lindstrom who is named after Cheryl’s mother, played the younger version of Strayed in the film adaptation of Wild released in 2014. Wild was selected by Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, beginning the launch of her second book club.
Life Lesson: “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) who was a philosopher. "In all my lectures," he wrote, "I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude (having no limit) of the private man.”
P.S. It is interesting to note that Cheryl legally changed her last name to Strayed in May 1995 following her divorce from her first husband. She was facing an uncertain future and looking for a name that would better match her identity and she settled upon strayed. “Strayed is, in fact, my real, legal name; if I’d married a man who had the last name of Strayed no one would say it wasn’t my real name. Strayed is the realest name I’ll ever have. It feels like my heritage.”