Toronto Centre Island
In the spring of 2014, I read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. At the age of twenty-six, this courageous woman plans to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to the Washington State border. And hike she does—almost eleven hundred miles in six weeks. It is a walk of self-discovery. In the Prologue, she describes her boots as “not so much inanimate objects to me as an extension of who I was, as [was] just about everything else I carried that summer—my backpack, tent, sleeping bag, water purifier, ultra light stove, and the little orange whistle that I carried in lieu of a gun. They were things I knew and could rely upon, the things that got me through.”
Journey. Walk. Reflection. Healing. Letting go.
Cheryl Strayed’s story inspired me to take my own walk. Like Strayed, I would walk alone. But unlike Strayed’s walk, mine was a more humble thirteen kilometers from Kipling Station to the Bloor-Yonge intersection— not a great distance, I know, and hardly comparable to Strayed’s thousandmile walk through the desert. But, for me, the urban walk that I had decided on was long enough for me to feel challenged and optimistic that I could discover something new about myself along the way. Where Strayed is a young woman in search of herself after the death of her mother and the pain of divorce, I am a middle-aged woman trying to make sense of the loss of my parents and the uncharacteristic relationship I began after their deaths.
We often talk of life as a journey…
Many writers use walking as a motif for exploring the journey of life. Indeed, my walk frames my reflections on a crucial part of my life journey. My hope is that my story will show you that we all have the strength to accept the loss of those we love, whether it be a parent, sibling, child, or a relationship. And for some of us the journey may be a long one. Sometimes, grieving and “getting over” loss takes longer than we expected, but we do move on. I know because I did.
So, on July 7, 2014, I took my walk.