I was promised revelations on camino, I was told I would come back to Barcelona a changed person, I’m not sure the transformation will be quite so extreme but what I find the Camino does is help you make more sense of truths you (should) already know.
Whilst pulling myself up the mountain today to O Cebreiro, there were moments, fleeting moments, where a part of my brain was yelling at me to stop, asking me ‘how much further?’ and ‘why the hell are you doing this?’. We all know nothing, nothing big or small, can be achieved in the future, the future is simply the culmination of a thousand presents and how you show up in those ‘presents’ will determine the success or failure of your aims in the future. Today, my future was to reach the top of that mountain and the only possible way of doing that, was step by step. Had I stood at the bottom of the mountain and thought ‘shit, this is gonna take me 4 hours of solid uphill climbing’, I’d have given up before I began.
The whole camino is just like that. Nobody talks about Santiago anymore, even though we’re all closer than ever, that subject, so often spoke about in the first few days, is not on anyones agenda. It’s just too big of a target and we’re all so engaged with getting from Villafranca to O Cebreiro or Triacastella to Sarria, or in my case, the next town with a bar, that the fact we’re all walking 900 kilometres across a country has become secondary. Our primary goal is simply to enjoy the walk and get through the day, closer to Santiago, clothes washed, teeth cleaned and bright eyed and bushy tailed for the morning.
I remember several years ago wanting to lose 30 kilograms. It was such a huge, daunting target, sure to take a minimum of 6 months, that the daily fluctuations in weight, of course especially gain, would throw me off the diet because my mammoth goal would look further and further away. It was only when I split the loss down into weekly losses with daily calorie targets that I made any ground. We all know things have to be completed step by step, but that metaphor becomes a physical reality on camino and I think it’s my greatest single lesson (well, refresher) to come from the walk.
The real lesson though is the methodology of how to live the ‘step by step’ life. It’s made up of many single needs, that, when each is met, propel you to each new step. The camino has shown me just how much really basic day to day things matter and those things are usually the things that give you the greatest energy both quantitive and qualitative.
The single most important thing in my life, I have discovered, is not my job or my relationship or anything secondary or external. The most important thing in my life is my own peace of mind, for without that, everything else goes to hell, and quickly! So I need to start filling my day up with things that contribute to my peace of mind off camino as I do on camino. Things like…
1) Lots of sleep!
2) Healthy food and drink!
3) Intelligent & kind company (both human and non-human!)
4) A feeling of health and vitality in the body!
These are pretty basic, yet vital, things and with this baseline in place, hopefully I can go back to Barcelona and have another bash at the ‘big things’, the whole ‘life purpose’ thang.
Back to camino matters.. Jana, the lady I was walking with back before Logrono has finished her camino arriving in Santiago yesterday. This highlights just how far behind I’ve slipped! I’m still 142kms from Santiago and only entered Galicia today!
The scenery, churches and, most importantly, the pilgrim menus have all changed since leaving Castille y Leon. The Gallego menu is much more to my taste with plenty of fresh veggies and fish rather than the chorizo and chips that has sustained me for the last 14 days! The walk through Galicia is going to be hilly and likely wet some days which is going to offer quite a contrast to the hot, flat days across the Meseta.
Tomorrow we head on to Sarria. In order to stay out of the throng of Sarria pilgrims we’ll stop just after or just before the Brierley recommendations and hopefully not end up on the streets too often.
And incase anyone is thinking about Santiago – it’s 6 days to go 🙂