I feel a jolt of excitement whenever I hear about a woman traveling alone, whether she’s a single woman surfing in Costa Rica or a married journalist dropping into a war zone or a mother going to the wilds of Africa, discovering what quiet sounds like when it unfolds around her. Such exotic forays are out of reach for many people – including me, for most of my life. But I also think you can take a day hike by yourself, you can travel to the lake by yourself. And what you find is a reassurance that you can stand on your own in the world.
There is a poignant scene near the end of “Wild.” Cheryl Strayed’s mother is close to death, and she tells her daughter, “I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life … I always did what someone else wanted me to do. I’ve always been someone else’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.”