I felt the urge over the last few days to write another post. The mornings in Vancouver of late have been clear and crisp. I walk 7 blocks from my house to the skytrain station for the trip to school. And as I walk at a fairly brisk pace, it being 7:30 and all, loaded down with my 20 pounds of books and food (more than what I carried on my Camino last year) I have been musing on what makes a camino.
Camino means a course, trail, journey, or way. In Spain there are many different Caminos, pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. I walked 800 km in 2013 from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago. In 2014 I walked just over 200 from Astorga to Santiago. This year I hope and expect to walk again, I am not sure yet from where. But for now my camino is very different.
I found myself very changed after my walk last year. I came home, separated from my husband of 27 years, and enrolled in a spa therapy program. I am in school for 8 hours every weekday, and my brain is full of bones and muscles. I still don’t understand why I can remember lyrics to hundreds of songs but not the origins and insertions of 50 muscles. And so I walk to school, study, and am surrounded by my classmates every day. They are all on their own camino, not sure where it will lead.
For me, that is the beauty of it all. Everything is new and uncertain and exciting and hard and FUN. What do you want your camino to be like? Do you want to know every day which albergue you will stay in? Do you want to keep the same travelling companions? Do you want everything planned in advance, no surprises? That works for a lot of people. But so many things will be missed. So many possibilities that will wither, never having been nurtured into being. Life changing conversations that won’t happen. That anticipation every single morning, wondering what’s coming, who you might meet, what you might see that gives you pause, marvelling at the beauty of it.
I remember many moments last year while I was walking, when I felt I would burst with sheer happiness. And I worried I wouldn’t find that again when I came back to Vancouver. But there are many small moments for me. A very good friend visiting from Spain. A kindred spirit visiting unexpectedly. Little daffodils in a yellow swath, nodding as I go by. A little girl on her porch, selling me a picture she drew for 10 cents. A couple of boys selling cookies in front of their house (I got the last one!).
I know when I go to Spain again, and for the rest of my life, I will be ok not knowing what’s coming. The more open I am to not knowing, the happier I am. I feel like I am leaping into space, and it’s not so much that I know there’s a mattress to catch me, it’s that it doesn’t matter if there is one or not. Because finally, I don’t need one.