I read Cheryl Strayed's Wild and find myself exasperated with her blithe, naïve choices that so often forced her into extremely dangerous situations. She was lucky, and oblivious to her luck in the way only the most beautiful and youthful among us seem to be. Underlying my irritation is a healthy dose of envy, to be sure, because she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail alone, something few have done, and more than that she used her twenties to experiment and risk, which I never did.
Instead I was hellbent on finding security. My husband and I both came from broken families (broken family: an apt phrase) and were united in our desire to do it better, to take our own childhoods like Boggle sets and shake them over and over until the cubes settled in a more felicitous arrangement. I wonder about that, now, as a reason for choosing a life partner. It seems sad to choose someone who'll remedy a lack: as if you're defeated before you've even begun.
But he and I, we've done all right.
In the space between the last page of one book and the first page of the next, I sit and stare outside at the bird feeder. I am hoping to spy a species of bird I've not yet seen. I watch all the birds (blue jays; cardinals; blackbirds; sparrows) line up on the deck railing in some inscrutable order known only to them as they await their turn to eat, and I'm amused. Easily amused: one of my more congenial traits.
And I remember Cheryl Strayed writing about her realization on her great hike that instead of pondering the profundities of life, love, and loss while taking in the majestic landscape, she was really only concentrating on where her next footfall would land, or where she might next find water, and I think, Maybe I didn't need to seek risk and adventure in my twenties. It could be that for me with my broken childhood, the greatest risk was the risk I ended up taking: building my own family, a new family, without a healthy model or guide. That determining to parent children, and parent them well, was in fact my snake coiled and rattling, my bear snorting and lunging, my bow hunter with a thirst for rape in his eyes. My very own Wild.