Wild, Cheryl Strayed


„Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
– Mary Oliver

The world of Cheryl Strayed has never been well-organised. A fear and uncertainty have been her constant companions since childhood, when Sheryl, along with her siblings, tried to steer clear from their insane father. Going to school, she used not to tread on somebody’s heels. And after getting married, she does not suspect her marriage would fall as soon as it has started. But when Cheryl’s mother dies, she is sick and tired of fixing her own life. There is only one way she notices: the Pacific Crest Trail, a heavy backpack and… over 1700 kilometers of a lonely road.

„I walked and I walked, my mind shifting into a primal gear that was void of anything but forward motion, and I walked until walking became unbearable until I believed I couldn’t walk even one more step.
And then I ran”.

The journey of Cheryl is not only a matter of walking. The difficulties on the road are marked by the wounds left by too heavy backpack. After some kilometers, it turns out that she overpaid for too small boots which pinch her toes to blood. Nonetheless, each step brings more humility and comfort and people she meets seems to be like old friends, full of love and compassion. A couple of hours in the unbearable heat makes her appreciate even more what a luxury is to have a cold water. Moreover, weeks without any shops show that civilized life is full of convenience and unnoticed little joy. The protagonist’s journey resembles a confession, an occasion to decide which values are important in life and a way to let go of the ghost of the past. And yes, far away from the city chaos, under the big sky of California, Cheryl starts to smile again.

„I took a drag and blew the smoke from my mouth, remembering how I’d felt more alone than anyone in the whole wide world that morning after Jimmy Carter drove away. Maybe I was more alone than anyone in the whole wide world. Maybe that was okay”.

What is the most moving element in Wild is that the reader deals with a genuine story, written on the basis of the journal from the road and memories. There are neither heroic, noble stories about bravery nor the story about the knight in shining armor. Instead, we read about the pain and fear, about human suffering and aching loneliness that looks for comfort in every wanderer. And that comfort is finally found.

Author: Katarzyna Anita Piotrowska
Translation: Dorota Osińska