A picture of Representative Earl Blumenauer
Earl B.
Democrat OR 3

About Rep. Earl
  • Congress Can Learn from Cheryl Strayed

    by Representative Earl Blumenauer

    Posted on 2015-01-21

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    BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, last night for the State of the Union address by President Obama, my guest was a Portlander, Cheryl Strayed, the author of the best-selling book, ``Wild,'' who is currently being portrayed on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon. This epic story is about how a young woman, reeling from the loss of her mother and the cascading challenges of her life, undertook a journey 1100 miles along the Pacific Coast Trail. It was 96 days of an amazing struggle, overcoming all sorts of difficulties, adversities, as she helped work out her own challenges and issues.

    I invited her because I thought the story that she portrayed, the experience that she had, was an interesting metaphor for the sorts of things that we should be doing here. Perhaps we might be able to come together as a Congress, supporting legislation that would help protect some of those special places that are portrayed in her powerful book and in the excellent movie.

    In the course of her visit, another thought has made its way to me as I watched her interact with dozens of young people in a variety of meetings on Capitol Hill, fellow Members of Congress, and many other people who were touched by the story of her journey and it made a profound effect on them. She continues to receive hundreds of emails a day from people who were inspired by that effort and her magnificent book.

    It occurs to me that it is an appropriate metaphor for what our challenge is as Members of the 114th Congress, because this, after all, is a 2-year journey on behalf of the American people. The question for us is: If we can struggle with that heavy pack, navigate areas where sometimes the trail is a little obscure, can we put our trust in strangers who help us along this difficult journey? Can we be resolute in putting one foot in front of another on behalf of the American public? Mr. Speaker, it was a very profound experience to watch those interactions, after having seen the movie, and having been entranced by the book. I am absolutely convinced that this is our moment, our journey into something that doesn't necessarily have to be ``Wild,'' even though there is a roller coaster of legislative activity. I am convinced there ought to be enough common interest, common commitment, common goals that we ought to be able to tease out elements that enable us to be successful in our journey.

    I hope, Mr. Speaker, that people will reflect on that experience of this young woman who was able to overcome adversity and open up an amazing chapter in her life and beyond. I hope we will be able to do the same for the people we represent.


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