I am an avid reader, and have been for a long time. As a writer, even if only an aspiring one, reading is essential. We must know our trade, look to other for inspiration and learn from those who have gone before.
I’ve been pretty busy lately, so my writing has been put on hold. Part of me thinks I’m just avoiding editing because it’s such a pain the ass. Long hiatuses are nothing new for me, though. I often need to take a break from my work to regroup.
But I never truly stop working on my writing. That’s what makes me a writer. Stories are always stewing in the back of my mind. While I don’t have the focus or time to put words down on paper except for these blogs, I have been doing the next best thing. I’ve been reading.
I’ve been downloading and listening to audio books non-stop. I’ve gone through the majority of Tamora Pierce’s books, Red Queen, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, The Selection Series, and more recently, Amy Tan’s works, as well as a number of other books I can’t think of at the moment.
I’ve also been reading non-fiction titles, such as John Elder Robison‘s works like Raising Cubby and Be Different. I was on an Autism related kick for a while and worked my way through A Friend Like Henry and The Horse Boy. I also just finished We Bought A Zoo.
The stand out read for this summer, though, has been Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve listened to this book a number of times. Listened to it, watched the movie, then listened to it again, watched the movie, and listened to it yet again, over and over again while working, sleeping and walking.
The fact that I’ve been hiking this summer is partially to blame. I obsessively read Born to Run when I was into jogging several miles a day, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life when I was working on my garden and raising chickens.
As much as I love the escapism of fantasy and science fiction, I have to admit, I’m highly motivated and inspired by reality. By individuals and their own unique experiences.
Wild, is an especially relatable read. Not in the sense that I have a drug addiction or significant loss, but that everyone deals with loss and has fallen at some point in their life. This book came to me after I’d hit an emotional low point, though I’d already started clawing my way out through exercise, positivity and hard work.
Reading the story of someone who had hit such a devastating low, struggled with grief and dealt with it through reckless escapism, was comforting in a way. Though I do not relish her suffering, it was relatable. It is comforting to know we are not alone in this very human ability to fall, to fail, to be less than we had planned to be.
The way in which she reconnected with nature, went out on her own to reflect and repair her own soul was truly inspiring to me. I think it is important to be able to be alone without being lonely. To be comfortable with ourselves and stay connected to the world from which we came.
And so, I’ve been hiking all summer. I am in part, inspired by Cheryl Strayed, but also simply reconnecting to my roots as she did. Camping, hiking, horseback riding and spending a great deal of time outdoors has always helped me to center myself. From jogging to riding to walking and hiking, I’ve always been happiest when I’m outside in nature.
Shortly after writing this, my husband and I will heading out on our first overnight trail. We’ve become semi-regulars at REI and acquired the most essential gear and have gone on our test runs. After reading Cheryl’s mishaps, I made sure to get big enough boots and purchase equipment that is lightweight, though I still want to nickname my pack Monster.
I’m thrilled to be returning to nature in this way, with my husband on board. It’s nice to have his enthusiasm and support in this venture. Though I go out on my own, with only my dog for company, far more than we go together. It’s a good place to be in our relationship. Independent, and yet together.
I think this is, in part, the appeal of hiking and running. You can meet people on the path of life, support and encourage one another for a spell. We move more readily, freely and, in my opinion, happily, when we are not clinging or hanging onto one another.
We are always, essentially on our own, moving at our own pace, towards our own goals. This is something to celebrated, explored, enjoyed, our journey of life. And when we venture back into nature, to our more primal way of being, we are truly able to be ourselves, to be free, to be part of the wild once more.