I went into the women's restroom. As I brushed my teeth before a flourescently lit mirror above a bank of sinks, a woman said, "I like your feather," and pointed to it on my pack.
"Thanks," I said, our eyes meeting in the mirror. She was pale and brown-eyed with a bumpy nose and a long braid down her back; dressed in a tie-dyed T-shirt and a pair of patched up cutoff jeans and Birkenstock sandals. "My friend gave it to me," I mumbled as toothpaste dribbled out of my mouth. It seemed like forever since I'd talked to a woman.
"It's got to be a corvid," she said, reaching over to touch it delicately with one finger. "It's either a raven or a crow, a symbol of the void," she added, in a mystical tone.
"The void?" I'd asked, crestfallen.
"It's a good thing," she said. "It's the place where things are born, where they begin. Think about how a black hole absorbs energy and then releases it as something new and alive."
The wilderness is the void, and the adventures that we take there are what shape us. This is implied throughout the cannon of outdoor literature; but few books take us simultaneously so deeply into the crucible of the backcountry as well as into that of the human heart. Wild is a funny, adventurous and heart-wrenching tale that reminds us of something that we already know. That wilderness and our adventures there can heal us and give us hope.
--Jason D. Martin