Of all the posts I’ve written over the last few weeks, this one has taken me the longest. I think it’s because I’m still processing; I don’t really know what to tell you about being home again. I find myself making Spanish tortilla and pots of potato, kale and white bean soup. After work and on week-ends I change into my Camino clothes, shabby though they are. I still haven’t completely emptied my backpack. I’m sure my sleeping bag smells pretty funky but it remains in its stuff sack. Simply put, part of me is still on the Camino and I don’t know how to bring it home. I don’t even know if I should bring it home. But I don’t like feeling ‘split’ either.
I’ve had many people ask me what it was like; what I learned; would I do it again. The last question is easy to answer: absolutely! I’m already planning my next Camino. This one will be from Le Puy to Saint Jean Pied de Port, a distance similar to the one I just completed.
Question number one is more difficult. How is it possible to compress five weeks into a ten minute conversation with someone? All I can do is point them to this web site and suggest they read about my trip. Grant it, I didn’t share everything on the blog but at least it gives people some sense of what a journey like this might entail.
But question number two…that’s the rub. What did I learn, and by extension, did the Camino change me? And if it did, how? I don’t know if it changed me. I hope it did. I hope I am a better person now than I was two months ago. But I don’t know for sure. I think that part of my journey is still playing itself out.
Here’s the only thing I can tell you right now. A couple of days before I arrived in Santiago, I was looking for something to read. I found the novel “The Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I didn’t think I was in the mood for his black humour but it was one of the only English books left behind at that particular albergue, so I picked it up and started reading it.
I won’t go into a long explanation about the plot, only to say that two people who hated one another ended up, though a bizarre set of circumstances, living together and falling in love during the last years of their lives. When the man was asked about how this happened, he said he had finally realized that, “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”
BINGO! Forget about the Big Questions. Forget about God. Or Buddha. Or Mohammed. Or whatever other diety you choose to acknowledge. Forget about THE MEANING OF LIFE. None of that really matters. What matters is that you and I are kind to one another. Everything else follows.
Did I know that already? Yes, but maybe being on the Camino allowed me to see it in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. Will I be able to walk the walk when my teenage son pushes my buttons or when there’s so much to do at work I can hardly breathe? Probably not. Certainly not 100 percent of the time. But maybe fifty percent of the time I will.
It’s a cliche to say that the end of the Camino is just the beginning of the journey. But there’s some truth in that. So here’s to journeys and the chapters that follow them. Buen camino everyone.