Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Gathered Up Inside": Wandering Forward

I was late to the read of Cheryl Strayed's Wild: a tale of love and loss and longing and hiking the Pacific Crest trail and returning to safety within (among other beautiful things).  I bought the book last summer in hardback, but gave it away when I realized I wasn't prepared for someone else's tale of mourning (regardless of catharsis);  I was still too much in the midst of my own.  However, yesterday, en route from Oakland, CA to Detroit, MI, I finally lost myself in the tale.  And, as happens in life, the experience came at just the right time.

"I didn't feel like a big fat idiot anymore... I felt fierce and humble and gathered up inside, like I was safe in this world too"  (p. 234).

This quality of feeling "fierce and humble and gathered up inside" resonated so strongly that I had to set the book down for a moment, and simply think:  "Yes, you've named it, Cheryl Strayed, that's exactly what feeling safe is."  And in this ability to articulate the feeling, there is freedom.

I look back over the past year, and I see how much there was to mourn.  And I am grateful.  I am grateful that I took the time to wander forward, in sometimes meandering ways, because it allowed me to land, firmly, where I am.  And to know that all around me are people moving through, healing, and grieving--and finding places to land.  And we live, we grieve, we celebrate, and we try damn hard to be kind and graceful along the way.  Is it that simple?

"What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn't have done was what also had got me here?  What if I was never redeemed?  What if I already was?"  (p. 258).

I am ready to believe that being "unmoored by sorrow" may be the truest (and most amazing) life altering event.  One thing I know for certain?  There will be more moments of sorrow, but there will also be many more of celebration.   And "here" (metaphorically speaking) is a damn lovely place to be.

There are some fabulous quotes that Strayed chose for the openings of different sections of the book, one of which is:  "Will you take me as I am?  Will you?"  --from Joni Mitchell's "California"

Tomorrow I'll enter another year as me.  I am glad to know that I have so many people in my life who do, indeed, take me just as I am.  And I'm grateful to know that I am willing to take me just as I am too.

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