by Ruby Jusoh
Since I’ve received the news that Reese Witherspoon was nominated for Oscars for her performance in Wild, I’ve been looking forward to watch the film. Being story of a young woman on a journey to find herself, I knew that it would resonate with me. However, I did not expect the flood of tears that would occur once the film ended and I was in… well, how would I put it…. brief emotional wreck.
Wild is such a strong movie of strong characters. Strong in their own weaknesses and strength, imperfections and endurance. Our 26 years old hiker, Cheryl Strayed had just been divorced after going through a crisis of drugs and sex due to the death of her mother. Having lost her sense of directed, she decided to “walk back into” being the woman her mother wanted her be. The journey through the Pacific Crest Trail was incredibly tough – 1,100 miles to be exact – and one has to face the extreme heat in the desert, the cold snow and mountains. Cheryl sought to push herself into awareness and the desire to live her life, which she had let slipped through her hands.
The driving force of the film is Cheryl’s relationship with her mother, Bobbi, whom Chery described as the love of her life. Bobbi raised Cheryl and her younger brother as a single mother after escaping her abusive husband. Despite the challenges in her life (no money, no prospects), she remained optimistic and a great appreciator of the beauty of life. Truly, truly inspiring! Get to know a mother like Bobbi in the film and you’ll get why her daughter fell apart after she died. She would sing, smile and live her life to the fullest even when tides were against her. One brief scene that I love the most was when Bobbi was hanging out with her children, sitting on the pavement, soaking up the sun and doing nothing else.
The film stroke a personal chord within me, like I think it did with other viewers. We define ourselves and our identities through our parents. We became the person we are today because of them – the providers, the carers, the moulders of our minds, the first teachers of our lives. Every aspect of our whole being can always be traced back to our mother, father and any other people who raised us. The invisible bond is extremely strong, that it could never be broken. Once such people disappeared from our lives due to situations we cannot control, of course we would fall apart. We would break because we don’t know what to do. We would feel extremely lost.
That was how Cheryl felt when she lost her mother to lung cancer. She lost the captain of her ship and as she said, the center to her self. Even her marriage with her husband could not salvage her situation. Instead, it sank along with her. Everything sank along with her. Life without her mother did not matter. Why should doing drugs and sex matter, too? They did not. She drowned and drowned until she reached rock bottom, nowhere else to go, no one else to call for.
Rock bottom. I like the sound of that. For people who have been through similar journeys as Cheryl’s, they’d understand that rock bottom is a place you need to go before you get better. Before you start to live again. Before that awaited sense of clarity comes to your head and whisper to you soul – “Okay, Ruby, that’s enough. It’s time to start living.” To be in rock bottom is not easy but it is a necessity. You need to be there before you could push yourself up again. It’s difficult. It’s crazy. Suicidal, even. But it could be done. It’s not impossible. And when you’re finally up again, you’ll realize that you’re meant to travel the journey after all.
On a side note, I miss you, Abah. Everyday. I am living and I am trying my best.
Let me just end this review with my professor’s favourite quote, which I have grown to love and also mentioned in the film.