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Strong

Strong: adjective

1) having the power to move heavy weights or perform other difficult tasks

2) able to withstand great force or pressure

I watched Wild last night.

It’s the sort of wanderlust, go off somewhere by yourself for months on end and have a catharsis, get away from all attachments, movie that I think my soul has been craving (see recent post).

 

While hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl faces down her life’s worth of memories, of heartache,  domestic violence, loss, addictions, mistakes.

She begins the hike, strong and smart and determined. She is setting out to prove, even if only to herself, that she can.

She ends it, standing on a bridge, looking out over a river, as her future-self narrates and speaks of the beautiful life that she would be living nine years from that moment- as a wife and a mother.

Some could argue that it’s a story of a woman finding her strength, becoming strong. Or, that it’s about an already strong woman, doing what she had to do, for herself.

I saw it as a strong woman, finding her softness, and learning not to see it as weakness.

Soft: adjective

1) easy to mold, cut, compress or fold; not hard or firm to the touch

2) having a pleasing quality involving a subtle effect or contrast, rather than sharp definition.

 

In the movie, Cheryl’s mother could be considered not strong.  We see her struggle to leave an abusive drunk. We see her dancing like a goofball around the kitchen, when there’s really no justifiable reason in her life to be so giddy (according to Cheryl). We see her fumble through going back to school, and losing her study time to make her grown son and his friend dinner – because, she chose to be a mom, and to put her (even grown) children ahead of herself. So, sure. She wasn’t what Cheryl, or many people, would consider strong.

And, yet, in revisiting her life in her four-plus months of hiking solo, it’s her mother’s story that Cheryl comes back to – it’s the center. And her dancing and smiling like a fool in the kitchen, becomes a lesson, not an annoyance. Always find the joy.

Content: adjective

1) in a state of peaceful happiness
2) satisfy (someone)
3) a state of satisfaction

All too often, I hear the words strong and woman together – like it’s either a good or a bad thing. Man, she’s such a strong woman to have lived through, or still live with that.  

Or, the contrary, So…she’s a strong woman. (Said in a tone that suggests, somehow, that is not desirable. Eye-roll optional.)

Strong women stand up for themselves.

Strong women get things done.

Strong women don’t take any bull.

Strong women don’t make sandwiches for grown men.

Strong women are difficult.

We either need to be strong, or  we really ought not try to be strong. Depends who you’re asking.

But, the thing is, I feel like all of the women I know are strong…and they’re also soft..and they have talents and weaknesses. You know, like human beings tend to be, regardless of gender.

All of the people I know, have moments of strength and moments of struggle, and they have days when they’re world conquerors…and days when they’re the one cutting the crusts off of their kids’ PB&Js and staying in their pajamas.

And, the strength of character I admire most, is being content enough, to really not care about the words strong or weak or soft, at all. The strength I admire most, is the ability to go ahead and be, and accept, who you are going to be, regardless.

Struggle less (to be what others think you ought to be), enjoy more (of who you are).

Struggle less, enjoy more.

 

If I’m strong, at all, I want it to be because I’m soft enough to have the power to touch people and help them move heavy weights.

If I’m strong, at all, I want it to be because I’m soft enough to bend, but not be broken.

And above it all, I want to be dancing in my kitchen, when there’s no reason at all.

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