I’ve been away from Vancouver just over five weeks and at the albergue for about three weeks. It wasn’t an easy transition for a variety of reasons. I found myself at loose ends and feeling quite restless until about a week ago. I have been thinking over the last few days why I couldn’t seem to settle in and what is happening. I resisted these feelings with all the energy I could muster. And then a number of things happened which turned things around for me. Let’s start with my phone.
I thought my phone was unlocked. When I arrived at the airport in Madrid I bought a Spanish simcard which included a data plan, text and talk. This was to be my means of staying in touch with people in Vancouver, given the nine hour time difference and people’s schedules. When I inserted the simcard, my phone didn’t recognize it although my friend’s phone greeted it with open arms. And so began a three week long episode of trying to get my phone unlocked. I don’t know how many frustrating hours I spent, or how many times I stomped back down the road to the albergue. Finally, I decided I was putting too much energy into the whole sad ordeal and just let it go. Two nights later I read something online about locked/unlocked phones and tried it out. Lo and behold, my new simcard had finally accepted my phone into Spain.
One of my classmates in my massage program had spoken about having a knee injury and being stuck on the couch for a month. She said it started to drive her crazy until she thought every day for what she was grateful. I have a lot of things to be grateful for every day, every moment. I have friends and family who love me. I have people in my corner who would do anything for me. I have a friend who replied, when I said “I miss you”, “But Donna, I never left you”. I have the fortune to do something I love. I am able to see a new sunrise every morning and marval at the changes that five minutes passage of time reveals. I have people I work with that make me laugh. I have a new walk to start in a few weeks and who knows what that will bring, and for that I am grateful.
Conversations with Vicente
A pilgrim came to the albergue a few days ago, a young Spanish man. We ended up talking about different ways people walk the camino. He talked about having a deadline to meet and needing to walk a certain distance every day. When I put forward the possibility that this might be lesson to learn, that you can just do what you want without worrying about a self imposed deadline, we got into a discussion about whther deadlines can be good or bad. He thought that planning everything wasn’t bad, and that we always have a deadline of death. I thought about this in bed that night and was very surprised in the morning to see Vicente there, that he had changed his mind about leaving, and maybe I had said some things he needed to think about. And then I got to thinking about how I was trying so hard to make this year at the albergue like last year, that it seemed I had made a plan, and was in some turmoil since nothing had gone according to plan.
Everything brought me back to being in the present. Whenever I forget to stay in the present, I lose myself. I like how things seem to unfold in a way that makes me question whether “coincidence” even exists. I always meet people or experience things when I most need to. I met a man at the albergue a few days ago. When he was leaving, I gave him a hug, as I do to most people. Some are not into hugs at all and only hug as much as they feel is necessary. But others give their whole body to it. And it’s a very powerful connection. This was a good hug. He emailed me a few days later to thank me, as it was the most genuine hug he had received for a long time. Perhaps it was something he needed right then and it wasn’t coincidence that he ended up at this albergue. He felt I had an open heart.
And all these things changed my restless feelings into being in a good place feelings. I have to throw my heart into everything, full on, or what is the point? Do you hold part of yourself back, to protect yourself? Because that already lessens any experience you have. What will you remember with more pleasure? That period of time when you opened yourself up or that time when you didn’t, in case things went badly. Because I think if you keep a part of yourself safely locked away too many times, it’s always going to be like that. And every time it will be harder to recognize what makes your soul hungry and what makes it almost burst with joy. And I want my soul to be filled up.