The Journey

I remember watching "Wild" (2014) with Reese Witherspoon, who portrays a young woman on her (perhaps naive) journey of more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. I recall the (very naive) anticipation of an impending disaster, which never occurred. While I liked the film and enjoyed watching it, I guess I didn't understand it well enough at the time.

In the last months, I've spent a some time thinking about such massive undertakings, particularly pilgrimages. It somehow seems easier to embark on such a journey when one hopes to fulfil religious duties. Which gives it a goal. But as the saying goes - sometimes it's about reaching the destination, while at other times, it's the path itself that is the destination.

“The paradox: there can be no pilgrimage without a destination, but the destination is also not the real point of the endeavor. Not the destination, but the willingness to wander in pursuit characterizes pilgrimage. Willingness: to hear the tales along the way, to make the casual choices of travel, to acquiesce even to boredom. That’s pilgrimage — a mind full of journey.” ~ Patricia Hampl

These journeys, often quite rigorous, as Reese Witherspoon's character demonstrates, are actually quests for introspection, reflection, and personal change. The character, lost and aimless, is metaphorically seeking direction while hiking along a well-recognised tourist trail.

While not being religious, I started to see the parallels here. We all need to find our bearings at certain points in life. The whole story now has a very different meaning. The concept of a journey. But what does it really take to set off? To keep going? How does the sense of having direction look?

I can't answer those questions. Maybe the journey doesn't have to be one that takes a thousand miles. I've got a strong feeling there's a significant amount of humility and gratitude involved. A journey of such length probably provides its fair share of chances to show it. Simply to make it. But the same can be said about everyone's life...

I guess the next step, at least for now, is to try and read the original autobiographical story. Maybe there will be another clue.