Most of us really do know when we have reached maximum saturation, numbing repetitive existence, cyclical breaking points, or any other number of visceral “wake up calls” that speak deeply of our personal need to step out of our current form of existence. We know.. and we often delay. And delay. I have been no exception to this form of existence… until recently.
I had heard about this journey called El Camino de Santiago de Compostella or as often described as The Way through a book of Shirley MacLaines entitled, “Camino”. It inspired me deeply and haunted my evolving bucket list with the notion that I really could and must do this thing. As life often pushes a point that we don’t lurch forward in a timely enough manner, I was re-introduced to this trek through one of my all time favorite authors, Paulo Coehlo’s work, “The Pilgrimage”. Again a nudge to figure this out, and make it happen.
Well folks I get all the reasons why I could quite rightly justify putting this thing off indefinitely…. I’ve been an overwhelmed homeschooling mother of 4, full-time homemaker, two children with special learning needs, married to a disturbingly jealous husband bent on monitoring all my time, invested as an ongoing holistic health student and really just far too over committed.
Circumstances change as time moves forward and my excuses continued to validate why now just wasn’t ripe yet for leaving. After one failed attempt in the spring of 2011 and nearly 10 full years after having first been inspired and drawn to this grand plan, I made the unilateral decision that early summer of 2012 would be my year, come hell or high water!
And so it is!
Providence would have it that I must have been meant to be accompanied, rather than trekking off from all my worldly responsibilities alone as I had envisioned. Brilliant. My peregrino companion was to be a colleague and dear friend with a relish for adventure and stretching her comfort zones internationally for years, just like me. What additional incalculable talents she also brought to the undertaking was an international street sense and magnificently fluent and beautifully spoke Spanish. Incalculable value is not an overstatement for this gift of the tongue, wholly lacking in myself with a bit of scattered and unimpressive high school French.
It was plainly understood before we set off that while we were companioned, alone time would be essential for us both. I knew it would be crucial for me, as the preceding 20 years never left me without an uninvited companion or at least a demanding interruption every moment, not excluding trips to the bathroom. Sound familiar anyone? We would both need time to drop into meditative nothingness,… sheer walking bliss and an off the map kind of presence as we trudged along. When we were walking with full presence, we would connect with others as the pilgrim life generously offers all travelers if they wish and relish in the personalities with zest, that could only be found on this type of quest.
There is a quality of energy that can only be found on this path and it cannot fully be explained as it feels and resonates differently for everyone. But what effect it has creates a desire to keep going even when the body is clearly stating that it is time to stop. Some pilgrims arrive and shortly thereafter find themselves addicted, so much so that they walk this trek or every given Camino starting point many times over. Some make it their life’s mission to walk it indefinitely.
My most ardent desire was to literally “dump” all of my lifetimes worth of baggage along this journey and rebirth a lighter and freer new me. I walked and talked to myself incessantly,… forgiving every soul that had crossed me. I realized it was necessary to forgive some multiple times and the endless array of memory flashbacks was frighteningly acute.
I also wanted to hold a certain presence that can only be found in an unfettered life. Could I possibly hold the same focus of singularity that I was able to embrace by simply choosing to get up daily and just walk?
I am going to tell you the answer…. savoring the moments as fully as I did then,… one quest at a time. More to come!