I have a good friend who walked the Camino five times over the course of five different summers. I think she has walked all the possible routes, from the Frances, to the Primitivo, to the Camino del Norte… Once she started from Lourdes, which makes for 530 miles. Pretty impressive. But I never could understand why she would do that. It almost annoyed me that she would choose to spend the summer walking on her own instead of resting and being with her friends.
Then I walked it as well – only about 65 miles, to be honest. And somehow I started to understand.
There are days and moments when suddenly, I miss the Camino. I feel like I want to be there; I want to be walking the way. If I close my eyes I can picture the places, the colors, I can feel the light rain falling on my face, and above all, feel that peace, tranquility, and abandonment that accompanied me along the way. Of course this is not all there is to the Camino… there are aching feet, legs and knees, and an aching back, and some sleepless nights in big dorms rooms. But once I was done, all I could and can remember is that peace, tranquility, and abandonment. Even more vividly, I remember life becoming simple and joyous; simplicity and joy that I have been – and I am sure I will be – looking for since the moment I set foot in the plane to get back home.
Waking up in the morning, I knew the only thing I needed to do was continue walking. All day, every day. Toward a place, a person waiting for me to get there. This made life simple. Starting with the outfit choice for the day: I had three different t-shirts packed up – which I had to wash at night – so it took me an incredibly small amount of time in the morning to get ready (which is not what usually happens). And then we would leave and the hardest decision for the day would be where to stop for the night, or what to get for lunch. Meeting people and conversing warmly would be as easy as picking the outfit. I think this was because on the Camino, I did not really have an image of myself to promote or defend – especially wearing hiking shoes and sweatpants, no makeup and a very large backpack on my shoulders. Nor did I have any plans to enforce. On the contrary, I was absolutely open to what would come, and that meant also being open to whomever would come for that short or long part of the way they would be walking with me. And it often happened that we would meet the same person along the way more than once, in different places, hostels, or bars. So we ended up talking, and sharing. And somehow making friends.
Simple and joyous. Can life be like that every single moment?