Wild, Long Walks and Finding Your Best Self

I recently watched Wild (2014) and really enjoyed it. Both Reese Witherspoon & Laura Dern performed brilliantly. I’m drawn to stories about travelling especially when it’s alone or about self- exploration. Examples of some other films are Into The Wild (2007), The Way Back (2010) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007).

I would love to go backpacking one day and journey across a continent. The idea of leaving your comforts and society for a while is pretty compelling. Of course it would be a struggle at times and frustrating but spiritually it could really open you up to true happiness and the beauty of nature.

I have done some hiking before, but nothing on the same level as Cheryl Strayed’s Pacific Crest Trail trek. I’ve walked up Keeper Hill, County Tipperary, a few times and it can be tiring as you get nearer the top. It’s about a 14km walk and gets pretty cold with wind and fog at the summit. I’ve always found it enjoyable though and it is liberating. It does make you think about life in certain ways and about what’s important. Up there, amongst the wildlife and nature, you just forget about modern society and the petty squabbles that happen everyday. In the grand scheme of things, the majority of modern society is a bit irrelevant.

Another long walk I did was last week, after a night out. I left this guys place to go home because I didn’t exactly feel like sticking around. He was staying in UL (University of Limerick) and my house is around 5.5km away (according to Google Maps) and would take over an hour to walk. And that’s exactly what I did because it was 7 in the morning, there were no buses and the taxis would have taken too long to arrive. It was so shit though. I had to walk for over an hour at 7 in the morning with ice on the paths (pretty risky) in the freezing cold and I didn’t have a jacket. The sun had risen by the time I got home. It felt so shitty and I just kept cursing myself the whole time for being so stupid. It did make me think about things though, and how I should behave a bit more sensibly. That long walk did make me learn things which is a sort of learning curve, I guess? It is true though, that through pain and suffering we gain wisdom. That experience did teach me about destructive behaviour and that I should steer clear of it.

That’s why Cheryl’s character in Wild sort of resonated with me. She goes through a phase of destructive behaviour including drug abuse and sleeping around a lot and when she hits rock bottom she decides to go on this massive journey in order to “walk [her]self back to the woman [her] mother thought [she] was.” And really that’s what it’s about, trying to find your best self. Who it is you are when you are positive and behave in the best way that you possibly can.

A line that I will always try to remember is “find your best self, and when you do … hold onto it for dear life.”

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