Express · Self Uncovering · Uncategorized

Lessons from author Cheryl Strayed

Photo source: julia5027, Pixabay

I first came across Cheryl Strayed while watching Oprah’s videos and SuperSoul Sunday sessions. Initially, I was intrigued by the fact that she had hiked, alone, for weeks. I wanted to do more mountain climbing in the future, and solo travels too, so her adventure piqued my curiosity.

But it was the depth of her insights that really captured my attention. Cheryl Strayed’s Wild was an easy read for me, perhaps because her words flowed almost like a song. And perhaps because I read the book at the right time, when I too, was grieving and felt lost. One line from her book which resonated with me, and continue to bring me comfort, was this:  “I didn’t feel sad or happy. I didn’t feel proud or ashamed. I only felt that in spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.”

I didn’t feel sad or happy.jpg

I also watched her Supersoul Session talk, “The Humble Journey to Greatness,”where she shared her struggles as she was writing her first book Torch. And she said something which I find to be a beautiful reminder to us who have seen our dreams fail, as we make peace with who we are now, even if we are not where we wish to be. Cheryl talked about setting a new measure for success, and pointed out that perhaps, her big dreams were actually among the things that got in her way.

“And that is when you have to ask yourself, not who you aspire to be, but to reckon with who you actually turn out to be. Who you really are. … I had to relinquish all of those anthems of greatness and dreaming big and aiming high … that had got me there. They weren’t serving me anymore.”

“Don’t let your dreams ruin your life.

Cheryl wrote another book, Tiny Beautiful Things, a collection of her advice on love and life released in the Dear Sugar column. Below is a snippet of her response to someone who had asked her what she would tell her 20-something self:

“You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.”

“One hot afternoon during the era in which you’ve gotten yourself ridiculously tangled up with heroin you will be riding the bus and thinking what a worthless piece of crap you are when a little girl will get on the bus holding the strings of two purple balloons. She’ll offer you one of the balloons, but you won’t take it because you believe you no longer have a right to such tiny beautiful things. You’re wrong. You do.”

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