Sunday in Portland.
Just began to heat our small sauna to enjoy before church and then a 3 to 4 hour trip to Yachats on the Pacific Coast.
This time of travel and family and new ritual and ancient ways and soulful, joyful people and . . . is like . . .
well . . .
Jennnifer suggested I read “Wild.” It is “a powerful, blazing, honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe – and then built her back up again.”
I haven’t yet, but I’m going to. Here are the last few paragraphs of the book:
“It was an honor to meet you at this momentous juncture,” he said.
“Nice to meet you to,” I said, shaking his hand.
After he drove away, I leaned my head back and closed my eyes against the sun as the tears I had expected earlier at the bridge began to seep from my eyes. Thank you. I thought over and over agin. Thank you. Not just for the long walk, but for everything I could feel gathering up inside of me; for everything the trail had taught me and everything I couldn’t yet know, thought I felt it already contained within me. How I’d never see the man in the BMW again, but how in four years I’d cross the Bridge of the Gods with another man and marry him in a spot almost visible from where I now sat. How in nine years, that man and I would have a son named Carve, and a year and a half after that, a daughter named Bobbi. How in fifteen years I’d bring my family to this same white beach and the four of us would eat ice cream cones while I told them the story of the time I’d been here once before, when I’d finished walking a long way on something called the Pacific Crest Trail. And how it would be only then that the meaning of my hike would unfold inside of me, the secret I’d always told myself finally revealed.
Which would bring me to this telling.
I didn’t know how I’d reach back through the years and look for and find some of the people I’d met on the trail and that I’d look for and not find others. Or how in one case I’d find something I didn’t expect: an obituary. Doug’s. I didn’t know that I’d read that he died nine years after we’d said goodbye on the PCT – killed in a kite-sailing accident in New Zealand. Or how, after I cried remembering what a golden boy he’d been, I’d go to the farthest corner of my basement, to that place where Monster hung on a pair of rusty nails, and I’d see that raven feather Doug had given me was broken and frayed now, but still there – wedged into my pack’s frame, where I’d placed it years ago.
It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white beach on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. That it was enough to trust that what I had done was true. To trust its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life, like all lives, mysterious, irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.
May the meaning of your life unfold within you with a gentle, wild grace.