I love movies--the way they can take you out of your world and into another is magical. For me, peering into that other world through the camera lens is really about discovering a new perspective, and you can find that in a scifi space odyssey just as much as you can in a real life story of redemption.
From time to time on this blog I'll highlight a movie (like Boyhood) that I find particularly meaningful from a mindfulness perspective.
WILD is one of those movies.
I believe that we are best able to truly find ourselves by spending time with no one else but ourselves. Alone, quiet, thoughtful, with ourselves. You don't find your footing by using someone else or some other thing as a crutch.
That is the central theme of WILD. Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, doesn't find herself through a self-help guide, she finds it using a trail guide and then by writing her own guide.
The other star of the film is the Pacific Crest Trail. I've found that time spent in nature is some of the best time you can spend with yourself. No distractions from people, stoplights, smart phones, TVs, or Twitters. Just you, the trees, a creek, and maybe a coyote. Without those distractions you can't help but turn inward. That's how a search through nature eventually leads you to yourself.
This is why you'll find me exploring Griffith Park, the Angeles National Forest, and the other hills around Los Angeles on a regular basis. It's my urban retreat into nature. It's my nature retreat into myself.
For each of us individually, we don't have to take on the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail, a heavy undertaking, to get to that place of mindfulness. We can start with something as simple as a walk in the park or as basic as taking a moment at home to breathe and reflect.
The movie eventually comes to a much more profound mindfulness ethos: our path in life.
Here's some questions I've been asking myself: what if I forgive myself? What if I was sorry, but if I could go back in time I wouldn't do a single thing differently? What if all of those things I did were the things that got me here?" ~Cheryl Strayed
Regret is a powerful emotion. It makes us want to go back in time and change things. It causes us to do things in the present to make up for our past transgressions, be it seeking forgiveness or turning to mind numbing substances to forget.
But our path has already been forged, it cannot be changed.
Whether you realize it or not, you don't actually want to go back and change those decisions. As difficult as they were, they were an important lesson. The only reason you are able to know how to do things differently now, how to do things better, is because you did them incorrectly in the first place.
That mistake, that lesson, gave you the wisdom you carry with you today. Without it you'd be a different person on a different path with a different understanding of life.
Every decision we make, every step we take, is our path. It's being written as we walk, created as we go. Without both the slipups and the successes, we wouldn't be ourselves.
That's the realization Cheryl Strayed came to understand during her walk alone through nature. It makes me want to run off to the woods and start searching, thinking, being.
WILD is an exploration and a real life example of abandoning regret in order to find one's self, and it might just be the inspiration you need to start that exploration on your own. I highly recommend it for my fellow mindfulness seekers/adventurers/nature lovers/dreamers.