January 10, 2015, Prescott- It has been, and remains, a dream of mine to hike at least one of the great north-south trails that grace our country. Before the need to replenish my coffers arose, I had a plan to traverse the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail in back-to-back years, 2018-19. For various reasons, this particular pair of endeavours will wait until I am in my seventies- and it’ll happen, along with some other treks, during that decade, unless the Universe decrees otherwise. Since this change of plans occurred to me in a dream-like state though, several weeks ago, I think it’ll hold.
Last night, I watched “Wild”, with Reese Witherspoon as the wild child who was tamed by the PCT. As many of my travels have been inspired by visions of my late wife, so was Cheryl Strayed’s time on the Pacific Crest Trail spurred by thoughts of her mother, who had died of cancer, a few years before. I could identify with her disquiet, on a number of levels. Though I never had a serious hard-drug problem, and my alcohol abuse was history well before our marriage, the serious lapses in judgement and difficulty with forming attachments that Cheryl displayed had parallels in my own life, and as recently as 2013. The PCT tamed her inner beast (shadowed as it was by the fox in the film). Extensive journeys around North America in 2011-13 and the northwest of Europe, as well as across the eastern Pacific, last year, brought my poisonous remnants to the surface and have established more clarity of vision.
Cheryl Strayed found stability afterward, in marriage and motherhood. My own renewed stability is forming, not necessarily with another intimate relationship, but with the distinct possibility of finally taking charge of, and seeing through, a service-oriented project that will provide a modest and adequate income. Add to that the extra security offered by wellness advocacy, and the six years left of this decade will lend more credence to “Age is nothing but a number”.