About This Episode: In this episode of VIDA Voices and Views, produced by R.J. Jeffreys, Melissa Studdard interviews writer and activist, Cheryl Strayed, who reads from her celebrated memoir Wild and discusses topics ranging from her own feminist origins to the glimmers of beauty, art, and power contained within suffering.
About Cheryl Strayed: Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the novel Torch, and two more New York Times bestsellers, Tiny Beautiful Things, which is comprised of advice from her “Dear Sugar” column, and Brave Enough, a collection of her most popular quotes. Celebrated for transforming suffering and loss into power and grace, Strayed’s books have been translated into forty languages. As well, Wild was made into an Oscar-nominated movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern and was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as the first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. In addition to writing, Strayed is co-host of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her “Dear Sugar” advice column on The Rumpus, and she is a long-time feminist activist and one of the first members of VIDA’s board of directors. Critics have called Cheryl Strayed’s work “both a literary and human triumph.” They’ve proclaimed that “we need her” and lauded how fiercely and elegantly she conveys truth. To read her is to agree.
Cheryl Strayed Quotes from This Episode of VIDA Voices
“When I was a kid of just six or seven years old, I learned the word ‘feminism,’ and I’ve been a feminist ever since.”
“Literature is my religion. Books have been the thing throughout my life that have offered the greatest consolation and enlightenment and illumination and all the things that we go to religion or spiritual practice for.”
“Writers get this bad rap, like we’re so competitive and at each other’s throats, and I would say, ‘Yeah, every once in awhile there is somebody who is like that.’ But mostly what I feel is that we go to the same church and we speak the same language and have the same values and beliefs in a deep sort of way. And I feel the presence of that. And I love the sense of community among writers.”
“Life and literature are not about ‘should.’ They’re about who you are really. And who you are really is so much more interesting and complex and beautiful than those artificial surfaces that we all want to show the world.”
“Every decision I make is informed by my feminism. There is no separating me from my feminism. It has informed me from the beginning. Same thing with my femaleness, my fill-in-the-blankness, my being a mom. Certain things enter you that are so central that you are always speaking from that place.”
“I was alone so much, and I was always surrounded with the living world. You know, when you actually decide to believe the truth—that every tree you encounter is a living thing—it changes your perspective on what alone means.”
“The big fear around writing memoir is, ‘Will people judge me?’ And, yeah, some people will. But some people will say ‘Thank you. Thank you for showing a version of yourself that feels true to me—because I am that way too.’ And nobody likes a braggart. Nobody likes someone who is like, ‘Oh no, not me. I’m perfect.’ We like the person at the edge of the party who says, ‘You know, I’ve had four miscarriages’ or ‘I’m divorced’ or ‘I’m in recovery because I used to be a drug addict.’”
“Out of our wounds, if we can get a sense of our power, that’s where our strength rises.”
“At the end of the day, what I realized is that the people who had transformed their lives the most powerfully were the people who came to the realization that that work could only be done by themselves.”