El Camino de Santiago

El Camino Francés-St. John’s Way

Dicen que El Camino engancha, y creo que tienen razón. I’ve been on the Camino de Santiago, specifically El Camino Francés for the last 13 days now, and it has been difficult. Most difficult, I think, will be, come Sunday, to learn where the camino of life takes me next.

Dear readers, I swear I wanted to write every day, on this medium, but instead I just wrote in my journal about the thoughts that were constantly flowing through my head and the conversations that I had with other pilgrims with each step of my journey.

One of the ways that I like to think, and to put my thoughts in order, is while in motion. Walking, driving, running, flying, whatever. Specifically, on the Camino, while I’m walking, ideas in my head kind of float around and start arranging themselves in horizontal lines on a page. In this way, my mind acts as a stenographer for my thoughts. I don’t write many of these thoughts down, and if I do, sometimes I don’t really like sharing them. Because of the fact that I don’t have a huge ego coupled with the knowledge that I am a perfectionist, I don’t regularly have the desire, even for the very few people that read this blog, to see what I am mulling over step after step, day after day, week after week. All the same, these past several days I have been contemplating, scheming, and pondering so much, that it’s about time I shared something.

Besides what I mentioned above, I also wanted to share my thoughts today because I’m kind of at a stand-still in my own journey in life. That is, if anyone has talked to me recently you probably know that I don’t know where to go (as in live), I don’t know what job I will have, I don’t know what purpose I really have right now…etc. You know, the normal stuff that I’ve been grappling with for the last four years.

One of the thought clouds in my head during stretches by my lonesome on the trail was the fact that I have not had a full-time steady job for nearly four years. In ways this has been a blessing, in others, I have struggled constantly trying to figure out what to do next. As with everything else I can think of on this particular journey this experience of mine draws a direct parallel to the Camino. Although my friend and I had our mileage and housing figured out ahead of time, I found that other pilgrims did not know where they were staying or how far they were going from one day to the next. They said that this gave them the liberty to do as much walking as they felt possible in a given day. Sounds about how my life has been lately, minus the worrying that I do between each gig. I’m working on that!

While walking each day, I have been thinking a lot about the intention I sat for myself on this Camino. It is interesting to make the comparison to Dorothy, who follows the yellow brick road (in my case the yellow arrows along the trail) so that she can see the wizard of Oz. The purpose for her trip to the land of Oz is to ask the great magician how she can return home to Kansas. My purpose involves a direction as well.

The other day, I started walking with a couple of Spanish women, one of which had her daughter of 16 years with her. They told me that they just decided to do the last 116km or so, of the Camino, from Sarria to Santiago, on a whim the week before. They weren’t prepared for the long hours of walking, the backpacks that weighed them down, or the “way” that things work on the Camino, in general, but they learned pretty quickly. They also described to me their intentions for their short four-day pilgrimage: the daughter of one of the women wanted to lose a few pounds, the mother wanted to become physically stronger, and the third woman wanted to find herself. At this point I really felt like Dorothy, because when they asked me why I was walking I told them that I wanted to find some direction in my life: my direction.

I began thinking about all of our intentions that very night, and it seemed to me that we all had what it took to gain perspective and realize our goals without even being on this particular Camino at all. All we needed was to believe in ourselves and put what it is we wanted at the forefront of what it is we are doing. At the same time however, I realized that what the Camino serves us pilgrims is a catalyst for what we can do in our own lives. As we set one foot in front of the other on each step of the trail we become more aware of how, like Dorothy, the cowardly lion, the scarecrow, and the tin woodman, we have what we are looking for within. Even so, this is not accomplished, or realized before making the journey: we must figure this out as a pilgrim.

Now, I feel as though my direction in life is as clear as it was before, but maybe now I just trust it more. I want to continue in the direction of working in the realm of education albeit in non-traditional settings, working with youth that may be at-risk or under-served. I want to continue bridging cultures, languages, and customs in the search for better understandings and ways of being, between the same.

Where does that take me? I don’t really know yet…but I know that like with the Camino, I will always have people caring for me and thinking about me, places awaiting me, and my own inner compass to guide me. ¡Buen Camino!