There are all the grand things he wanted to be, a longing so naked and sorry I sensed it and grieved it even as a young child. There is him singing that Charlie Rich song that goes "Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?" and saying it was about me and my sister and our mother, that we were the most beautiful girls in the world.
I love words, and there are some sentences that I love spoon-feeding to myself. This is one of those spoon-fed sentences. "A longing so naked and sorry": even if you've never had that kind of longing, it so accurately describes it that you know what that feels like.
Of all the things I'd been skeptical about, I didn't feel skeptical about this: the wilderness had a clarity that included me.
That may be my favorite line in the whole book. First of all, it's so beautifully constructed, and it captures what this journey was all about. She started out looking to find herself—looking for clarity—and that's exactly what happens. The essence of the book is held right there in that sentence. It means that every step was worth it. It means all the skepticism of whether this hike is the right thing or not the right thing—it all gets resolved in that sentence.
Part Four: Wild
It seemed like a long time and also it seemed like my trip had just begun, like I was only now digging into whatever it was I was out here to do. Like I was still the woman with her hole in her heart, but the hole had gotten ever so infinitesimally smaller.
I took a drag and blew the smoke from my mouth remembering how I had felt more alone than anyone in the whole wide world that morning after Jimmy Carter drove away. Maybe I was more alone than anyone in the whole wide world.
Maybe that was okay.
I liked the self-realization that's coming here: that if you can't be alone with yourself and be happy, then you can never be happy. All her life she's been running from herself, and finally she has this moment where she sees that she's alone—and that's really okay.
Miles weren't things that blazed dully past. They were long, intimate straggles of weeds and clumps of dirt, blades of grass and flowers that bent in the wind, trees that lumbered and screeched. They were the sound of my breath and my feet hitting the trail one step at a time and the click of my ski pole. The PCT had taught me what a mile was. I was humble before each and every one.
Is that not the most gorgeous thing? I can't get over it. Do you not feel like you're on that trail right now? Walking with her? That's how I feel—as if I'm on that trail right now walking with her, and I can hear the clicking of the ski pole every time she puts it down.
There was the fact of the moon and the fact that I was sleeping out in the open on my tarp. There was the fact that I had woken because it seemed like small cool hands were gently patting me and the fact that small cool hands were gently patting me. And then there was the final fact of all, which was a fact more monumental than even the moon: the fact that those small cool hands were not hands, but hundreds of small cool black frogs. Small cool slimy black frogs jumping all over me.
I think I could have handled the rattlesnake. I could have handled the bear. I would have been afraid, but I could have even handled men on the trail, if they hadn't bothered me. I would have been psychologically damaged forever—and I don't say that lightly—but I would still need to be cared for because I would become a babbling crazy person if I'd felt the little black frogs.
Next: The passage that created an aha moment for Oprah