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"Two Monuments Men, killed in action, died as much for art as for country," writes Thomas B. Allen in the Washington Post review of The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel. Read BExtraordinaire Blog for more reviews on our next book club selection.
is reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail by Cheryl Strayed for Thursday, November 21, 2013.
Cheryl Strayed is a New York Times best selling author. Her memoir Wild was selected as the winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the Indie Choice Award, an Oregon Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and a Midwest Booksellers Choice Award.
Wild is Cheryl Strayed's story of how she coped with her grief after her mother's death. At 22, she loses her mother suddenly to cancer. This leads Strayed to embark on a long journey to find herself by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, (PCT).
Strayed was in college reading The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermout when her mother got sick. She read passages from the book at her mother’s bedside to help shut out the fear of the inevitable. The ten thousand things were all the named and unnamed things in the world and for Strayed this added up to less than her mother’s love for her and her love for her mother. This book comforted her and as she nears the end of her trek on the PCT, the meaning of the book helps her to understand and accept her life and her loss.
She recognizes the staggering burden she carries was not her "Monster" backpack rather it was her mother. On the trail she often wondered, “Where was my mother?” As she reached the Columbia River, a miracle occurs, she finds release by the thought that her mother was “on the other side of the river.” This connects Dermout's book and Strayed's life to a story from Buddhism about the path of enlightenment that refers to a raft that is of use only to cross a river. As the raft is of no further use after the river is crossed, it should be discarded. So these arbitrary conceptions of things and about things should be wholly given up as one attains enlightenment. As Strayed moves along the path, she leaves her belongings, one by one on the trail until finally she can leave the burden of her mother there, as well, "on the other side of the river."
“For once the phrase a woman with a hole in her heart didn’t thunder into my head. That phrase, it didn’t even live for me anymore.”