by Bonnie Anderson
Reese Witherspoon does a great job in the role of Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail“ (PCT). The book, which inspired the film, sold over one million copies in the first 18 months it was released. ‘Wild’ honors the memoir through Nick Hornby’s screenwriting and Jean-Marc Vallee’s (Dallas Buyers Club) skilled direction. But the real star of this film is cast by the streams, the mountains, the animals, the desert, the sky, the moon, the sun, the stars, the wind, the leaves….the earth that is.
The journey of Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) was more than a physical 1,100 mile hike. Beginning her hike in Mojave, California and ending after 94 days at the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington border, the very literate, albeit screwed up woman, had made bad choices.
However, the film did not give great detail about Cheryl’s infidelity, drug abuse and other destructive behaviors. Instead, movie goers get a glimpse into the soul of Cheryl’s mother (Laura Dern), a woman who views her experiences and situation with an ever-present positivity that is more realistic than sappy.
For Cheryl, the beauty of the earth provides the perfect setting for finding the strength to mourn her mother’s death and celebrate the experience of her mother’s love. Like Cheryl Strayed, some of us have turned to the beauty of this earth in search of our own redemption.
It is no wonder that this film has inspired many other women to take to the trails alone in search of self-reflection, remembrances, sadness and joy and perhaps even, resilience in the form of redemption. Some say that “The Wild Effect” as the lure of the trail for women “seeking something” has been dubbed, is the reason for the record number of long-distance hikers on the PCT in 2013.
If you are seeking a “thin place” and you choose to hike the PCT, take advice in preparation from The Pacific Coast Trail Association. It is a good source of information about the trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.
Be sure and bring your Adrienne Rich poetry book, rub desert sage between your hands as the scent will surely keep you safe, sleep next to a pond where there are lots of tadpoles and pray that they will get legs while you dream so that when you wake there will be hundreds of tiny frogs welcoming you to a new day and jumping for joy all over you.
At the theatre, seeing this film, or in your yard, out your window, in a park, on a walk or in a remote area where you are alone, prepare for close encounters with “this fragile earth our island home.” Renew your relationship with the earth.
Watch for this new broadcast to be released Spring, 2015 “Nature as Never Before: PBS Announces EARTH – A NEW WILD” http://www.pbs.org/about/news/archive/2014/earth-new-wild/