Cheryl Strayed is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Torch and the memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.
From Strayed's Q & A with Marjorie Kehe at the Christian Science Monitor:
What was the best gift the trail gave you?Author Pam Houston on Wild: "I read it on a long airplane flight, and by the time I was done the people all around me were seriously afraid of me. I was laughing so hard I was shaking the whole row of seats, and when I wasn’t laughing I was crying."
The greatest gift was a sense of my own resilience. By that I mean something deeper than what confidence is. When we feel confident I think that a lot of times we think that that means that we’re going to be able to succeed at something and dominate something and master something. You know, it’s all those kind of winning and on-top things. The kind of confidence that I got on the PCT was more like, "Whatever it is that happens I’ll be OK." To carry everything that I needed on my back ... to say “Here’s what I actually need to survive” and it’s stuff that I can carry on my back. That’s really powerful. And to do it while carrying it over this difficult terrain and in difficult weather. It just gave me this sense of my own strength and resilience.
What was your worst moment?
There were times all along the way when the physical circumstances would meet the negative thought patterns. I would just get so angry at myself. I would say why do I have to be out here? You know, think of all the other things a 26-year-old woman could be doing right now. And I’m just out there in the wilderness and so when it would be really searingly hot and my feet would be absolutely killing me I would be hungry and just thinking about all the things I did not have. I would get into one of those negative thought patterns and that was so hard. I just wanted...[read on]