Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Before I’m off, some wandering thoughts and my usual Camino philosophy on life
Wandering: following both the arrows and the heart
Hola, amigos, it’s time for a slow and wandering walk in Spain and Portugal. The countdown is on! Only a few more days and I’ll be in Spain. Here’s a look at the past walking year, wondering how new Camino experiences will grow and be different.
A friend recently gave me a card with a quote by Melville: “It is not down on the map; true places never are.” We can follow the Camino without a guidebook or map. The arrows guide us to Santiago.
I dreamed my Camino last night and I couldn’t wait to jump out of bed and pencil in some of the blanks of my calendar. I hope to walk the last part of the Portuguese from Valenca to Santiago. My idea is to wander or revisit Camino favorites, connect with a friend who is walking the Francés, then make my way to Porto and Valenca, to start my walk in Portugal.
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Since I’m in the wandering stage for many of my days in Spain and Portugal, I know even the calendar entries might change, but right now I feel like a kid who has just been handed new boots. I find the ways our minds work fascinating– the path to ideas and choices, our inner voice and debates– before we come to a meaning or a decision. Some hopes and dreams move into action, others stay in that space in our hearts, waiting or hoping or dreaming. And then there is the world, reality and life that often change all we planned.
I’m walking a slow Camino! That is my challenge, as I tend to go for it, but this time I will try to listen to my body, pay better attention. I am not muscular and sturdy, except for my soul and fortitude. I will try to drop that envy that makes us yearn to be something or somebody that we are not.
Note to self: Walk my own Camino. Stop more often, look back where I’ve been, where I’m going. Take more breaks and drink café con leche and freshly squeezed orange juice no matter how far the servicios y baños are spaced. Remember: eat more chocolate and churros and ice cream. (I already learned how to do this on my first Camino). When I stop at a cafe, ask one or more at a table if I can join them and invite solo walkers to join me. I love the kindness of the Camino– let me be kind and attentive to other pilgrims.
Am I excited? Absolutely! What’s profound (at least to me!) is that these feelings of enthusiasm and anticipation are the same I felt as a child, the freedom and wonder of wandering and exploring. A little bit nervous and a whole lot ready to jump in. It is only recently I realized that my moveable childhood has contributed to my moveable comfort zone. We can still ask the question, “Are we there yet?”
Revisiting 2016 and 2017 on the Camino
Every Camino is as different as it is similar. For many pilgrims, the culmination of the Camino is the Compostela, a certificate showing you walked the distance on the Way to Santiago, at least the last 100 or more (for many of us it’s hundreds and for some fewer) kilometers, for spiritual, religious or other reasons. I am grateful I have my Compostela (spiritual) as a memory of my 2016 pilgrimage, but the walk is what I still feel in my heart, a spiritual experience. I am transformed by my walks everyday. Why do you walk?
I finished the last stages of my 2016 Camino with South African pilgrims, sisters Serena and Sandra and brother, Fabio, who included me in their walking family, and named me “Queen Irene.” (I’m blushing, but I loved it!) Started with my friend Craig, later off on my own and after Santiago, walked with a new friend and a veteran walker and pilgrim, Darlene. We shared post Santiago adventures with a stay in a retreat, complete with Cats, a walk from Carontoña to Muxia and finished in Finisterre and the zero marker. The lesson: be open to the gifts of the Camino.
Camino 2017 was a lesson in acceptance and impermanence, as an injury walking down the rocky mountain from Cruz de Ferro changed my path.
My journey didn’t really end, as I stayed in Spain, meeting more amigos, healing, walking on and off the Camino and exploring the rugged and amazing coast, including a return to The End of the World, Finisterre and to Muxia.
Think about it: Do you have a Plan B?
2018 has been a walking year. . . Walking at home, alone or with friends on morning walks or on trails, the coast, with fellow Sacramento Pilgrims, family, especially my daughter who has been a walking companion through rain and extreme heat. I’ve walked for peace and justice, exercise, discovery (inner and outer), adventure . . .
and walking to stay fit (trying!) for climbing hills and the long trails on the Camino.
If you’ve walked or will be walking on the Camino, you know that leaving is not as easy as it sounds. Responsibilities at home and at the same time our own personal preparation and needs might (!!!) conflict, and there is work to do to make it all happen. I will have to sleep on the plane and the first few days in Spain. But, that is how we get on the trail. Lace up our boots and take the first step.
Your One Wild Life I hope you’ll join me on my walk in Spain and Portugal and in mid-July journey to Guatemala, learn more Spanish and take a hike. There are always surprises along the way.
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As I walk, I’m answering the question Poet Mary Oliver asks, in her poem, The “Summer Day”: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ (Click to listen)
Tell me, amigos, what do YOU plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
See you on the Way. Buen Camino, Irene