Looking at travel snapshots, including my own, you would think that most travel is a fun, glamorous slice of heaven. Sometimes that is true, but more often than not there is more going on that you can’t see. Bad days, bad nights (the worst), lost direction and anxiety for the future have played a huge part in my travels over the last 5+ years.
Truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way. For those of us who travel for reasons deeper than just sightseeing, these darker moments play a huge role in shaping our lives and personalities.
I think that is why I fell in love with Wild.
The movie version of Wild, which stars Reese Witherspoon, is already out in select theaters nationwide. Although I haven’t yet had a chance to see it, I’m really excited about it.
I read Wild on a plane to California. I mean, I read the entire book in the span of six hours on a plane: I just devoured the thing. As I read it, I grew more and more excited and simultaneously more and more distressed. I honestly have very little interest in the subject of hiking, but Cheryl Strayed’s writing just destroyed me. The way she talked about her trip, and her own bruised and battered twenty-something life was so brutally honest, yet startlingly poetic.
I knew I would give anything to be able to write the way she did. Strayed had the ability to make the most miserable moments sound fascinating and, in their own way beautiful. And she had a lot of miserable moments as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail.
One thing that I really like about Wild, in comparison to say, Eat Pray Love, is that Strayed didn’t really enjoy most of her journey. It wasn’t a romp through Rome eating gelato, falling in love with cute guys in Bali. Strayed had to suffer to get through her trip. Physically: blisters, aching feet and worse, but also emotionally. She goes through these trials and comes out transformed on the other end.
Even though I’ve never had a desire to take a 3 month hike (and I still don’t), I could easily relate to Cheryl’s journey. I’ve suffered for my travels: through long flights, sunburns, blisters and the occasional food poisoning. I’ve been through the existential stuff to: the “what am I even doing here,” the “Am I totally wasting my life” and the “this was all a huge, expensive mistake” stuff.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s been a lot of amazing stuff too, and after time it’s the amazing stuff that crowds your memory, totally pushing off the bad. When I think back on Australia, I barely ever remember the constant rain that made me so unhappy, I remember the Great Ocean Road, and seeing old friends and exploring the Great Barrier Reef. I can almost convince myself I had a good time.
BUT. The hard stuff, the emotional stuff you have to tackle on the road, that is what ultimately changes you as a traveler. It’s the stuff that batters you around, change your course completely and finally takes you somewhere you never knew you were headed. This is particularly true when it comes to long-term travel.
Never, 5 years ago, would I have though I would end up where I have, and for me that not only makes travel worthwhile, it makes it magic.
Wild is playing in select theaters right now, I’m going to take my mom this week. Check here to see if it’s playing in your city.
You can watch the trailer for the new film version of Wild below. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think.
Disclosure: This post was written by me, brought to you by Fox Searchlight Pictures.