Embracing Uncertainty | Cheryl Strayed, Thanksgiving & India

Cheryl | Go On As You Never HaveI love Thanksgiving. Unlike Christmas, it is a quiet and reflective week and an awesome holiday. It is a day that we get to stop and just be. A day to reflect and a day to be thankful. The fact that tomorrow is the first #powdereddonutday of “Year 2” makes this an even more reflective time.

The thing about “Year 2” is that I can no longer say, one year ago, and remember a moment that I was with Maureen. As a dear friend who also lost a loved one noted, “you don’t create any new memories.” That is the crazy part about this journey, and I think Cheryl Strayed captured it well in this quote from PopSugar. “It is impossible for you to go on as you were before, so you must go on as you never have.” Those are incredibly powerful and true words, and as I continue to write, I think you will see that theme evolve in my writing. What does it mean to go on as you never have? What does it mean to Embrace Uncertainty?

One week after watching Wild with my daughter, Kyla, we met Cheryl Strayed at a book signing here in Austin. The day after making my post “Embracing Uncertainty | What is Our Wild?” I had wandered into BookPeople and was blown away. I have fully embraced serendipity and synchronicity, but even this one shook me a bit. Her story moved me and Kyla deeply, and there, as I looked up on Tuesday was the list of upcoming events. In just a few days, Cheryl was going to be here in Austin. When she poked her head out dramatically from behind the curtain Saturday, she was deeply authentic and funny, and while signing her book, Brave Enough, for Kyla, she was beautifully sincere.

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Kyla & Cheryl StrayedTwo young women. One lost Bobbi. The other lost Maureen. One lung cancer. One breast cancer. Both joyous, vibrant, amazing women. Two girls finding their path forward. One on the PCT; the other the trail of a beautiful, vibrant teenager. Me. One lucky dad watching the connection. Thankful.

I am also thankful for the outpouring of love for my journey to India next March. The CrowdRise campaign has already passed 10% of my goal of $10,000 with some very generous and thoughtful gifts. The one titled, “In Maureen’s Memory,” moved me to tears yesterday morning. I have a feeling my two weeks in Delhi, volunteering, traveling, and just being… me … will be my version of the Pacific Crest Trail. I would feel blessed and enriched if you made a visit to the fund-raising page. As I said in my note last week, “many hands make light work.”

Cheryl Strayed said something else in her words last Saturday at BookPeople. She reflected on the fact that unfortunately her story is not uncommon. Whether it is cancer or something else, the story of loss is not unique. As she said elegantly with a heart full of compassion, “it is ordinary.” That note struck a chord for me and will inform my writing as Year 2 unfolds. Maureen was truly unique; our love was one of a kind; but our story is everyone’s story. I write just like Cheryl wrote. For years, she was Dear Sugar at Rumpus. I’m just me. I’m Gary. And, I am thankful.

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