Yesterday, my dear friend Heather and I saw Wild. I loved it. . . every minute of it. Just as I loved the book. I’d read one person on Facebook say it was one of the most narcissistic films he’d ever seen, and another person commented on the “Reese Witherspoon’s up-turned face” . . . and while I did see the upward gaze a lot, I found neither that nor the story told here to be narcissistic or self-absorbed or whiny, as people have called the book and the film.
I just found it truthful, and perhaps it’s because I relate so very much to Strayed’s perspective, particularly about the loss of her mom, those negative comments strike me as having come from people who lack compassion for others’ losses, perhaps because they have not really experienced loss in a gutting, powerful way. I don’t know.
But I have lived loss like that, and I find the idea of taking 3 months to “walk my way back to the woman my mother raised me to be” to still appeal, even though I’m much more whole and happy than I have been in many years.
I’m reading Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman, and I keep finding myself in those pages, even though I’m not quite the demographic she describes since my mother didn’t die until I was in my 30s. Still, I relate so much to these women who lost their mothers when they were younger. My mom died after my first husband left, after I’d left the job I had worked my whole life to obtain, and before (maybe it’s still before?) I had children. In so many ways, I was back to where I’d been when I was 22 and fresh out of college.
My word have I needed my mother in those years when I didn’t have a family unit I’d built for myself.
So when Cheryl Strayed packs a ridiculously heavy pack, wears shoes that are too small, and begins to walk to just do something, I get it . . . in a way that is deep and profound for me. And I wonder if more of us don’t need to head out into the wild for just a little while because we must, first, be whole in order to give.
That doesn’t seem like narcissism to me. That seems like wisdom.
What do you think of Strayed’s book? The film version?