Quote for the Day: January 31st, 2022

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.

Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Pinworthy: Cheryl Strayed Quote About Fear

I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

Anyone who’s been reading this blog for any amount of time whatsoever can probably tell you how much I love Cheryl Strayed. She is possibly the most quotable woman on the planet at the moment. I don’t have any tattoos (yet) but if I ever decide to get one, it’ll probably either be a mockingjay in flight or a Cheryl Strayed quote.

I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become.

When I read Wild for the first time, it really opened my eyes to the possibility of living in a state of acceptance. I saw that it was possible to not only not feel regret, but to be thankful for the mistakes I’ve made because ultimately they’ve shaped me into the person I’ve become. And is it even right to call them mistakes? You see, I grew up in an extremely religious household where sin was vile, hell was hot, and you most certainly wanted to do everything you could to avoid ending up there. That legalistic framework conditioned me to feel intense shame and regret every time I behaved outside the bounds of what was considered “acceptable” behavior.

You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior.

No one really talks about the paranoia of living that way. You live every day slobbering like a Pavlov dog. You get treats (eternal life and salvation) for good behavior and punishments (eternal damnation and torment via hellfire) for bad behavior. I can already hear my mom saying, “That’s not how it works. We are saved by grace, not by good behavior.” And I will give her points for that, but the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

…the act of living in grace and in a state of constant penitence functions exactly like the kind of conditioning Pavlov used on those pooches.

I’m aware that I’m taking the long way around here, but I want you to try something for me. Think of fear as a border. Imagine it as a literal line of demarcation fencing you in. Fear tells you not only where you can go, but how you must behave there, what your limitations are, and ultimately, when you are allowed to leave. Fear is limiting. Now, don’t misread me. The opposite of fear is not bravery or courage—it is water. It simply flows.

Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

And like Cheryl says in the quote I’ve shared above, fear is borne out of the narratives we tell ourselves, the ones we play on a loop. Sometimes you must tell yourself you are safe and you are loved over and over again until it becomes the only story you know and the only sound that reverberates.

What I want for myself and what I want for all of you is for us to learn to tell ourselves a different story. From the time we were born, we’ve had narratives projected onto us. You’re too fat. You’re too thin. You’re too gay. You’re so needy. You’re too loud. You don’t fit in here. You can’t sit with us. You can’t show your skin if it’s not flawless. You can’t bare your midriff if it has stretch marks. The way you eat is disgusting. You must have a thigh gap. You must buy your clothes at Walmart. You must have muscles. Boys can’t wear skirts. That lipstick shade is slutty. Give more. Give less. Be quiet. Speak up. Sit down. Disappear. Become nothing.

What do all of these narratives have in common? They’re all lies. Tell your own story and live in your own truth. I promise you won’t regret it.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

5 Books That Changed My Life

Link to original video posted on TikTok:
https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMRbeke5d/

I’ve been revamping my socials to all have matching handles and this is my second attempt at #BookTok. The first one got a little bit of traction but I think I know what I’m doing a little bit better this time around. To accompany the video, though, I’m going to give you, my blog readers, a little something extra: a gallery of the book covers of the books featured in my #BookTok *and* a blog-exclusive quote graphic from each book that I won’t be posting anywhere else.

“I don’t want to lose the boy with the bread.” – Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.” – Alice Walker, The Color Purple
“To convey in any existing language how I miss you isn’t possible. It would be like blue trying to describe the ocean.” – Mary-Louise Parker, Dear Mr. You
“How wild it was, to let it be.” – Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
“The moon sets and the eastern sky lightens, the hem of night pulling away, taking stars with it one by one until only two are left.” – Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

Moving Memoirs: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

“There’s no way to know what makes one thing happen and not another. What leads to what. What destroys what. What causes what to flourish or die or take another course.”

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed

Wild is without a doubt my favorite memoir. I love its grittiness, its recklessness. I love that it doesn’t give simple explanations for complex truths.

Sometimes people die. Sometimes our marriages end in divorce. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes the road not taken is the road that would lead you home. Sometimes home is the open road. Sometimes home is nowhere. Sometimes it’s a place deep inside you: dark and irrevocable and mysterious.

Sometimes home is the open road. Sometimes home is nowhere. Sometimes it’s a place deep inside you: dark and irrevocable and mysterious.

Cheryl Strayed writes unapologetically about the worst (and arguably the best) time in her life. After losing her mother less than a month after her lung cancer diagnosis, she becomes unmoored. Her mother was her anchor. Her marriage ends and her life as it exists doesn’t give her the space she needs to grieve.

Having no clear path forward, she forges one herself. This may sound corny, but sometimes you have to have a clean break to let the light in. She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. 1,100 miles from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods into Washington State. She had never hiked before. We can probably alter the idiom “Go big or go home in Cheryl’s case to “Go big to go home,” home being the place where you can finally breathe free.

This may sound corny, but sometimes you have to have a clean break to let the light in.

Wild was Oprah’s first pick for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and spent 52 weeks on the NPR Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller List. In 2014, through her production company Pacific Standard, Reese Witherspoon produced the film adaptation of Wild with Jean-Marc Vallée as the director and Nick Horby, the novelist, as the screenwriter. Her mother was played by Academy Award-winning actress Laura Dern. Both Witherspoon and Dern received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film.

Since Cheryl Strayed is one of the most quotable writers on the planet, I feel like it’s only appropriate to end with a (longer) quote of hers that’s imprinted itself indelibly on my soul.

“What if I forgave myself? I thought. What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have? What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn’t do anything differently than I had done? What if I’d actually wanted to fuck every one of those men? What if heroin taught me something? What if yes was the right answer instead of no? What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here? What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was?”

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed

God, those last two sentences just speak to me: What if I was never redeemed? What if I already was? Our culture has such an unhealthy obsession with redemption narratives, redemption arcs. Like we’re all a bunch of derelicts needing to be scolded into submission. Submission is just a word that means you’ve relinquished your power to someone else. And no one else can guard your power like you can. Own it.

Submission is just a word that means you’ve relinquished your power to someone else. And no one else can guard your power like you can. Own it.

I’m such a liar, saying I was going to end on that quote. Oh well. This is my blog and I’ll do what I like. Wild is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please follow, like, comment, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at thevoraciousbibliophile@yahoo.com or catch me on Twitter @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.