Lost to Found: The Lonely Heart of Adventure and Silence

In which rain falls on Slovenia, the city of Bled is circumnavigated, and a part of Daniel’s life remains, for now, silent.

wild


To my dear reader,

Thirteen months ago, I was sitting in a hostel in the rainy town of Bled, Slovenia, watching the film Wild alongside several other travelers. I was on the tail end of a two-week adventure around southeastern Europe in the wake of studying abroad in Italy, and in spite of its gloomy weather, Bled – with its mists sweeping over surrounding mountains and its tiny church perched on an island in the lake at the town’s heart – was proving to be very special. The other travelers and I were forty-five minutes through Wild when it unexpectedly stopped working. Unbeknownst to me, this would be a stroke of huge luck, as it would lead all of us on a whirlwind midnight pub crawl that circumnavigated Bled. Yet the memory of this film stuck with me, so that thirteen months later, upon seeing it sitting in a public library, I took it home and finally finished it.


Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, tells of Strayed’s experiences hiking from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada as a means of coming to terms with her troubled life. In turns faintly humorous and viciously heartbreaking, the film alternates between scenes of Strayed’s struggles on the trail and flashbacks to her mother’s death, her unwanted pregnancy, divorce and drug addiction. Although I thankfully have never struggled with any of those things, I did find the premise of her adventure – the act of independent travel as a sort of catharsis – strangely parallel to mine. I was travelling by Eurail alone from town to town, after an intense and often lonely experience studying music in Milan, and before beginning my final year of college. To a much lesser degree, my travels were cathardic too.


But thinking back on Wild and those adventures, one thing surprises me. I almost always frame my life experiences with music, whether it be framing road trips with country music or walking my dogs with Ravel’s string quartets. When I think on that beautiful and lonely trip, however, I think of silence. I suspect that this speaks to the fact that those two weeks seem oddly disconnected with my life. I don’t see this is a good or bad thing, but the fact that I hear no music when I think of that time makes it seem as if it were not real. It makes me wonder about my own relationship to adventure – was it really cathardic, when I can’t seem to conjure any emotions about it? Or was it so cathardic that I’ve purged emotion from those memories? There is no piece of music that speaks to that time in my life, and it makes me wonder about the ending of Wild. When Cheryl finishes the trail, how did it resonate into her life later? Or did her adventure, like mine, become silent?

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I doubt it. That seems like a me problem.

With all due respect,

Daniel Wolfert

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