I just finished the book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, the real life account of a woman who backpacked 1100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail in an effort to remember who she was. I haven’t seen the movie yet because I prefer to read the book before hand, but now intend to see it for sure. The story is a difficult one to read; Cheryl has struggled with heroin and had many affairs before divorcing when she enters the trail, as well as desperately missing her mother who died four years prior. It is a heartbreaking, inspiring tale of both failure and determination and I recommend it, although the language is very raw.
When I finished the book I read the Acknowledgements section, carefully poring over her long list of people that she thanked and honored for helping her write her story. I found myself searching for the other backpackers that Cheryl had met along the way, and was surprised to see that except for a cursory salute, these people were not part of her life anymore. Some of these people could be viewed as lifesavers to her while on the trail, and so many were the encouragement or inspiration that Cheryl needed most at that moment, and the connections made seemed to be some that would endure time. But when she exited her trial out of those woods, those very people were no longer who she needed.
This fact underscored the idea to me that although someone may be invaluable to us at one point in our lives, they are not necessarily meant to stay that way. You may find yourself feeling guilt because the connection you had with a friend years ago is now very different, or feeling confused because you were once so close to someone when they needed your help, but today you wouldn’t believe you are counted as one of their friends. I think this is normal, and even important sometimes. If Cheryl had continued life with the backpackers after leaving the mountains, chances are that she would have stayed right there, at the end of the trail. The same is true for us, we are on a journey and God gives us great people to do it with, but some are meant for only a portion of the hike.