I had the pleasure of seeing Cheryl Strayed speak about her bestseller Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail on Tuesday, September 29th at Chapman University. Strayed incorporated stories from her life, lessons she has learned, and even gave advice to the audience and to writers during the talk. The talk, part of the Interstices series at Chapman, aims to explore differences, new ways of thinking, and connections between many ideas and communities. Strayed’s theme was ReWILDing, the idea of returning to nature, and more importantly, returning to one’s inner self.
I am an environmentalist, a vegan, and a HUGE lover of nature, so Strayed’s talk really meant a lot to me. I grew up in western Pennsylvania where there is a plethora of small woods and state forests. I grew up exploring these woods almost every day, so nature became a huge part of my life and a mirror through which I saw a reflection of myself. When Strayed spoke about the idea of returning to nature to be humbled and to heal, it reminded me of my own self. Spending regular time in nature gives us an opportunity to reduce the flow of thoughts in our mind and just be in the present moment. This presence you bring to your consciousness is deeply healing and revitalizing. Science backs this up, too, showing that nature actually makes us happy.
Naturally, by getting out and getting happy, nature can fuel our creativity, too. This doesn’t mean that we have to write about nature. It means that we can use this place of solitude and peace to access our creative minds to produce the art we want to produce. By taking ourselves into nature and letting ourselves heal mentally and physically, we can come to peace with where our lives are. Once we are at peace with what has happened in our lives, whatever that may be, we can be ready to write about those experiences.
“The artist’s job is to translate and transcend the personal into the universal.”