True, Truer, Truest

With Cheryl Strayed in Buffalo

With Cheryl Strayed in Buffalo

I’m not usually swayed by celebrity, but I was starstruck by my brief interchange with Cheryl Strayed. I was lucky enough to accompany my friend Linda O’Connor to hear her speak at the University of Buffalo — and to attend the “dignitary” reception before the talk. I’m a huge fan of Cheryl Strayed. I got hooked with “Tiny Beautiful Things,” and bought a copy for each of my daughters. The heart, depth and truthfulness of Sugar really moved me, and I’m finding myself as moved by “Wild.”

Her presentation was open, warm and wise. Nothing showy, but Cheryl speaks articulately and deeply about the life she’s lived and the transformations she’s undergone. She speaks honestly and wisely about the writing bits, too, and I hung on every one of those words.

She was gracious enough to take a picture with my book, and to accept one as a gift (which I got to give to her really cute husband, by the way). She has given me and other memoirists the courage to write the truth of our own lives. By laying bare her own life she teaches us how to live our own more humanly, more fully. I believe she is one of those women who comes along once in a generation to show us who we are, and who we can be.

She inscribed a book for me, too. The inscription reads “Stay Wild and True.” She is the real deal.

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