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This One Wild Life

This One Wild Life

A Mother-Daughter Wilderness Memoir
also available: Audiobook
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As the trail gets more exposed, Katie’s enthusiasm bubbles. She’s still silent, but the determination and excitement vibrate in the set of her shoulders, the intensity in her eyes. She keeps her strides long and strong, her pace vigorous.

“Do not fall,” I warn her. “If you fall, you will die.” I look at the steep drop-off to our left and imagine her losing her footing, careening down the mountainside. Would she really die? Maybe not. Still. Falling here is not an option. “Keep your eyes on the trail. One careful step at a time.”

Seeing her approach the peak, measured and calculated but also daring and bold, I recognize the limitations of these dualities we depend upon, the ease with which we fall into them, pretending they make sense of our lives and our people. We draw on simple binaries like good/bad, shy/brave, happy/sad in an impossible attempt to impose order on chaos, to beat the ever-shifting complexity of life into manageable containers. I do it with almost everything. Katie: shy versus brave. Our marriage: the dark years before versus the happy years now. My relationship with Gyllie: the wise elder friend versus the younger hopeless friend. Ollie and Katie: sound versus silence. I do take comfort in the tidiness of these sharp distinctions, all of us controlled and in our places, but that fixed clarity has little to do with our real lives, a series of stand-alone, unique moments.


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