Cheryl Strayed walked a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Her new hiking boots, which were too small, ripped most of her toenails off. After her mother’s death, she had taken a look at her life, didn’t like what she saw, and said, “I’m going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was.” So, she did. Her book about this journey is called WILD and it is FABULOUS. They made it into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, which is also EXCELLENT – as raw and real as Cheryl’s life must have felt during that whole time.
Last Friday, I had my right knee replaced, which has been needing to happen for many years. At home now, EVERYTHING I try to do seems to take YEARS for me to do, and, then, I am exhausted. Parts of my body other than my knee now hurt, too – aching and throbbing from being called upon to get to work doing jobs I’ve never asked of them before, or, just from simply lying in bed for hours in weird positions just to get comfortable.
I emptied the dishwasher earlier, which seemed to take hours. Of course, then I was exhausted and grumpy. My leg was throbbing like a sump pump. I thought, as I often do, I’M SCREWED. Sometimes, I am right; other times, I am wrong about that. Then, without preamble, Cheryl Strayed and her journey wafted across my mind and then I thought: WELL, AT LEAST, YOU’VE STILL GOT ALL YOUR TOENAILS.
I hobbled in here to the living room, clicked on the TV, and there was Reese Witherspoon starring in WILD, right there for me to see. Again. Writers have a way of saving each other, even when they don’t know it; ESPECIALLY when they don’t know it. I hope words I have written over the years have offered hope or comfort or insight to someone right at a time when they were needed most, even if it just allows someone to think: WELL, AT LEAST MY LIFE ISN’T AS BIG A MESS AS HERS.
It is important, especially for those of us who tend to “awfulize,” to realize that pain, even in all its rawness and thrashing about, doesn’t last forever. Wounds heal. Movement returns. Things change, shift, and life goes on. Sometimes, Life, with arms spread wide and grinning at us like we just won the decathlon, even forgives us. Today, I needed reminding of that and Cheryl Strayed showed up. Right when I needed her most. Thanks, Cheryl. JS