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Walking towards mystery

In late September 2001, I arrived by foot at the beautiful city Santiago de Compostela.  I had walked the Camino with the sole purpose to arrive in 30 days.  It was a mystery what awaited me, and yet, it had not once occurred to me in all the hours of walking, that I might not appreciate what was at the other end of the long expansive trail.  It is now ten years since I’ve walked the Camino and it still remains a very cherished accomplishment.  Simple in method, I walked.  Profound in its result, my heart and soul took flight.

When I think about that time on the Camino, I remember a few lessons I wanted to apply to life beyond the scalloped marked trail:

1)  There is no escaping my humanity. Regardless of how much money, knowledge or status anyone brought with them to the Camino, it would not make any pilgrim immune to blisters (or some other pain) during their way.

2)  My arrival is in my choice to walk each day. Camino pilgrims I met were very helpful.  There were not many young women travelling solo so people often offered to be of assistance on anything from cooking me a meal to translating the world news about 911.  But no one could do the walking for me.  As painful as it was some days, with twice the weight recommended for my body, I was the only one who could put my left foot in front of my right.  My options were clear – walk, or stay still.  Keep walking. Rest!  And repeat…left foot, right foot.

3)  Assumptions and expectations are unnecessary extra weight; let them go! When I first started walking I thought everyone on the Camino would be going the distance to Santiago, but I learned that some walked for a weekend, a week or a month.  Less than a dozen among hundreds of people I met along the way actually planned to walk the full distance between Roncesvalles and Santiago.  And yet, the quality of experience with each person was not diminished or enhanced by the quantity of time we shared together.

4) Learn to speak more languages! At least one more than English! Sadly, I have failed in learning this lesson.  I met so many amazing people from Europe, Australia, South Americas; mostly everyone except North Americans and British spoke more than one language. Here is my pledge…before I am 40,  I WILL learn a new language!  If not, I will walk the Camino again to teach me again, why it is important!

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