In the movie version of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, the author remembered these wise words which her mother used to tell her. Words which became a mantra for the author as she hiked the PCT and called upon them to conjure and share her mother’s strength to help her on her healing journey. Words whose strength I had the opportunity to test myself last weekend.
Rather than sidetrack to a different story here, I’ll just say that I found myself in an unwelcome predicament which was completely of my own doing – one which I could not think of any way to “undo.” Thankfully, while at the Oregon Truffle Festival the previous weekend, my big sister and I had made a plan to get out into the woods to forage for some late-season hedgehogs and hopefully an Oregon white truffle or two.
We’d just seen the movie version of Wild the day before our hike, and the scenes were still fresh in our minds when we set out to the foothills of Oregon’s coast range. I’d been emotionally smacking myself upside the head for hours and was still too on edge to release myself to the forest when we first arrived and set out with the dogs. Partway up the path, my sister repeated Cheryl Srayed’s words: Put yourself in the way of beauty. Then, The forest will heal you. And my sister repeated those words again and again as we breathed in the moist, clean air. Put yourself in the way of beauty. The forest will heal you. Slowly, they started to sink in. Slowly, I began to pay attention to the inches-thick cushion of lime green moss which softened each of my steps. I pondered the shafts of winter sunlight streaming in magnificent bands through the mountain mist, through the limbs of 40-foot Douglas firs to reach even the darkest parts of the forest’s rich undergrowth. Put yourself in the way of beauty. The forest will heal you. I felt the strength in those words, and, even stronger, I felt my sister’s faith in their ability to clear my mind. And therein lay the true beauty – a sibling’s determination to lift her kid sister’s spirits.
Never found the truffles, but, thanks to my sis, I did come home with a collection of hedgehog mushrooms and a mind that was far more at ease.