It's a question that can be applied to Strayed's current situation, taking a solo 1,100-mile trek across the Pacific Crest Trail, but also to the circumstances that led to her hike in the first place, as we see in flashbacks that her life before her sojourn was marred by drug use, infidelity, and an unhappy marriage. And while she uses a recent nasty breakup as reasoning for setting out on her own, even Strayed admits that things run much deeper than that.
The clip showcases what's sure to be a tour de force performance from Witherspoon, who's seen hiking and nursing sore feet, weeping over the death of her mother (who she calls "the love of my life"), and facing down a fox, both frightened and desperate for connection. That the film is slated for a release right in the heart of Oscar season is no mistake.
"What if all those things I did were the things that got me here?" Strayed wonders in narration near the close of the clip. Witherspoon may be asking herself the same question come time for the Academy Awards.
"Wild," directed by Jean-Marc Vallée ("Dallas Buyers Club"), also stars Laura Dern and Thomas Sadowski ("The Newsroom"). It hits theaters on December 5.