As I Iistened to the last line of my present and possibly all-time favorite novel, Wild by Cheryl Strayed (CS), a single, unexpected tear formed in my left eye. Right there at the breakfast table while I was having my bacon, Canadian, of course, left-over cremini mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter and two handfuls of greens with homemade vinaigrette dressing.
I don’t want it to end. Too soon, it’s too soon.
Lost + Found
I found this gem of a book at the corner of 6th Avenue and 50-something St. on the second day of my solo-mama weekend adventure in The Big Apple and my very first time in NYC! The poster at the busstop grabbed me immediately, first because of the singular title and second, because I was actually feeling it: feeling wild-ish, not so much in the pedestrian way as in “You wild thang!” but more of the “Wild and free.” organic variety.
I made a mental note to check it out as soon as I got a chance to go on Audible, my personal choice of a bookstore and reading format and continued my treck to what I thought was the way to Central Park on Fifth. I was…um…a bit lost. Ok, I had no idea where exactly the park was but since I was feeling muy adventurous and wild-ish, I kept walking while enjoying the pulsing Saturday night scene of New York City, baby!
Oprah Book Club 2.0
I didn’t know I’d come across the book again, this time at the magazine section of the convenience store by Gate 32 of the American Airlines waiting area the very next day. My flight back to Toronto was delayed for three hours so I had plenty of time to browse. It was right there alongside all the other delicious bestsellers and this time I saw the revered stamp: Oprah Bookclub 2.0. What the 2.0 meant I didn’t know and I didn’t care. (I later found out it was the “revived” book club which Ms O once retired but now because “I just had to tell the whole world about this!” brought back to life.) I would have gotten the book with or without the stamp. That’s how strongly it resonated with me. Besides, there was this one time that I listened to a book recommendation by O and hated it. So there.
As soon as I read the Prologue, I knew I had to have it. I almost bought the book right there and then even if I knew it would be challenge to get to sit down and actually read it, that’s why the Audible membership. I knew, too, that as soon as I got to the much-needed general clean-up sessions when I got back home, I’d need a good book to keep my mind from exploding over how three kids and one grown-up can accumulate so much dirt in three days! It was, after-all, a whole weekend of my mess monsters cluttering up our home as I trecked around the urban jungle called Manhattan.
I started listen-reading midday Monday. By this morning, I was done. All 7 hrs and 24 mins of it. A new record for me.
I’ve teared-up, swelled-up, clenched and released intermittenly, heart beating alongside Ms. Strayed’s while I threw in the third load of laundry, vacuumed under the boys’ beds, made dinner of beef tapa with broccoli, all the while grateful for the fact that there’s an audio version of it or I wouldn’t have been able to finish or even read the book!
Ready, set, DIVE
Enough of this long-winded introduction nga! Let’s dive into the Why of this book now, shall we?
Why do I love it so much? First, it’s the setting. The Pacific Crest Trail . I get it. I completely understand when people gush over a mountain terrain. I get how people cry at the sight of an ocean expanse of blue or sing praises for even a simple patch of sunlight on a forest floor. A single flower, the rays of the sun coming through the leaves of the tree in one’s yard is enough to inspire one to write a poem or a song. I understand because I experience the very same things.
I believe it’s because I grew up a mere five minute walk from the ocean, the Pacific to be exact, and always surrounded by trees – coconut, palm, talisay, mango. I’ve experienced Halleluiah choruses sung to me while driving down a canopy of hundred year old acacias and listened to wordless angelic whispers as I walk down a quiet trail of brown and green.
I know in my heart that the jins and spirits of a netherworld connect with us most in nature.
Then, there’s CS’s story of hitting rock bottom and the tranformation that ensues. It’s the classic against-all-odds bio-lit, my favorite genre of all. She reminds us that we’re not alone in our own climb up our personal mountains, whatever form it takes in our lives.
Thirdly, it’s because Ms. Strayed is about my age and consequently, has my range of life-experiences. Not that I’ve had so much dramatic heartache in my life – as of her writing this book, she’s lost her mom to cancer, her stepdad and siblings to life-moving-on and herself to her deep anger and pain. Not that I needed to do something so drastic. But then again, maybe my choosing to live this diaspora life half a world away from my own loved ones and the soft and easy everyday experiences they have back home is akin to this choice Ms Strayed made.
Hmmmm….napaisip ng mas malalim pa…