For my stay in the hospital this past week, I had great ambitions. Ambitions of catching up on all the reading I don’t have time to do anymore. So I loaded up my suitcase and my iPad with books.
Books that, in the end, I just couldn’t be bothered to read. Maybe it was the drugs or the pain but, honestly, I couldn’t find the concentration to focus on a page of printed words longer than a few seconds before I’d drift off.
But then yesterday as I was beginning to turn the corner and feel a little more like myself and as the drug induced haze began to wear off, I finally decided to try to read a book. Looking for some motivation, I picked up Wild: A Journey From Lost to Found by Cheryl Strayed. And then I couldn’t put it down.
Strayed’s account of her lone hike along the Pacific Crest Trail is a compelling story of perseverance and of conquering one’s fears. I kept turning the pages into the night, eager to learn what adventure or character would meet her next on the trail. All the while thinking to myself, could I do this? Could I be this brave?
The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the thing that was so profound to me that summer–and yet also, like most things, so very simple–was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do.
And that’s true no matter where we are in life. We don’t have to dodge rattlesnakes and bears on a solo hike through the mountains to show courage and bravery. We’re all faced with decisions every day that require us to demonstrate our own kind of courage. We can all be brave.
Do I see myself doing something as extremely brave as Strayed? No. But reading her story reinforces for me that you can get through almost anything life if you have the courage of your own convictions.