The story I wrote has an ancient tradition in literature, man against nature, the hero’s journey. I was conscious of the narratives that I was both taking part in and also countering because the variation on the theme is: It was a woman, and it wasn’t “versus.” I say the wild felt like home to me. It wasn’t me trying to conquer it; it was me living in it. So much about “Wild” is about acceptance and surrender and vulnerability. To me that’s the greatest strength, not this conquering kind of narrative that we have embedded in our bones.
That got me to thinking. How much of personal growth and achievement advice is about conquering? A lot, actually. In America, especially, where the self help literature really got going, back in the last century and before that, we're all about action, fighting for what's right, changing what we don't like, conquering the next foe, battling the obstacle we'll face on our way to our goal. But it could well be that "acceptance, surrender, and vulnerability" are much more important in any heroic quest than we normally suppose. And we forget that to our detriment.
There's a famous woodcarver who has said that average carvers often fight the wood, and try to force it into what they have in mind; whereas master carvers "listen to the grain" they're working with, and truly partner with the wood for the greatest results. Could it be that every situation has its grain, and that we need to accept that fact, surrender to it, to some extent, and be vulnerable to learn and change and adapt? Could it be that this is as important to any heroic quest as the determination and will to fight and struggle?
Cheryl Strayed offers us some wild advice that's well worth pondering.
To see her book, click here.