Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean –
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down –
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
As with many of the projects we embark on, this one began on Twitter.
Syar was tweeting Al Zaquan about a memoir she had just read by a favourite columnist of hers. And Syaz piped in to ask what book she was referring to.
Soon enough, Al and Syaz found themselves a copy each and, along with Syar, decided to read the book together and have a book discussion for ISSUE #8: Light.
The memoir was by Cheryl Strayed, who used to write anonymously as Dear Sugar for The Rumpus, and it documents the time she decided to hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) – a journey which would take her across America, from California to Washington. It was the culmination of what had been a difficult and cold four years after the death of her mother. 26 years old, recently divorced and moving through life aimlessly, she came across a book describing the PCT and immediately started planning for it.
Reading this book together was an experience in itself. Strayed, contrary to her name, winds a tight narrative of her trek and the experiences that led her there, making the read an engaging and harrowing one – from the pain of watching her mother slowly fade in her hospital bed to the physical scars of her gruelling travel routine, she tells her story in such an honest way that one cannot but admire how brutally open she was about her flaws and her stumbling journey.
Once we had reached the end of the PCT along with Cheryl and her enormous backpack called Monster, the three of us met up one weekend to talk about our experience reading “Wild”. We had grand ideas of a hike in the wilderness, a wide open field, a road trip, boots and blisters, but our journey (and limited circumstances) took us and our dinky recording equipment as far as a park near Al’s house. At least there was fresh air. And mosquitoes.
We each chose a passage from the book which resonated with us, as well as discussed the main themes in this poignant account of losing your way and finding a new path to tread.
We hope you enjoy our discussion – if you’ve read Cheryl’s book and have something to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. If you haven’t read the book, beware spoilers!
You can purchase Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found” (otherwise known as “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”) here.
— Syazwina Saw & Syar S. Alia
Part 1: Islands
Part 2: Grief
(The other book mentioned in the video above is Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay“)
Part 3: A Woman Alone
Al, Syar and Syaz on Cheryl