I just finished reading WILD by Cheryl Strayed. I was thoroughly engrossed. It’s about a young woman, having just lost her mother to cancer and divorced from her husband – all before the age of thirty, sets out to sort herself out while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from California to Washington state. It’s a story of tenacity, heartbreak, resolution and self-discovery. She tells her story with brutal honesty but also a lucidity that opens the trail up for us to discover both the physical and emotional landscapes. By the end, when she reaches the Columbia River and puts her hand on the Bridge of the Gods that spans Oregon and Washington, you shed some tears of relief with her and think back on the expanse of her journey and just how far she’s come.
As I closed the book it got me thinking about journeys. We all have them. And whether they’re told over a beer or written down in book form, they still make an impact.
Some that come to mind of those I know or have known….
A teacher who faced prejudice all his life, only to impact students for a lifetime by opening up the worlds of literature and theater for them. He would later transform at-risk youth with the beauty of art and helping others…
A girl who for years endured the sexual abuse of her father only to find escape in art and who somehow, someway, kept her heart soft and tender towards others by having an incredible generosity of spirit…
A man who’s battled alcoholism most of his life yet ministers to people all over the world, including tenderly sharing with prostitutes on Bourbon Street and living with and serving a family in the garbage dumps of Juarez, Mexico…
A woman who endured ridicule and loneliness growing up, finding escape in the theater, only to become a highly respected concert performer and who gives willing of her time, treasure and talent….
Our lives may seem small and nothing ‘big’ ever seems to happen to us. But raising an autistic child and seeing him bear fruit as an adult or surviving a devastating divorce that leaves one crippled only to have entire vistas surprisingly open up before us, including our hearts, our journeys are worth relating. It’s not a matter of big or small, it’s one of relateability. And all of us have lives and experiences that universally resonate.
And sharing those lives, in whatever form, may prove to be the catalyst for inspiration or hope for someone else.
So what’s your story..?