Last year I had the privilege of walking the French Way Camino from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It was not on my bucket list or something I had considered or wanted to do. I knew very little about it, except a couple of years before I had watched the movie “The Way starring Martin Sheen.” I enjoyed the movie but never once considered walking “The Way.” It was as if I was being compelled to go , so much so, I did very little research, I did more after I returned. I bought a book by John Brierley entitled “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago.” It was the pilgrim way known as Camino Frances. I read some of the book, but it never really registered for me. It was after I got on the trail, the book became a constant companion. It was an amazing trip. I guess I had some expectations on the walk, but it has had more of an impact since my return. Many things I better understand about myself since the Camino.
The first posts I have written, you may find difficult to understand, that does not alarm me. Remember I did say I don’t have the answer for you, but you have the answer for yourself. To find that answer can be somewhat evasive. My hope is to impart some gems that can aid you on a journey of self-understanding. My Camino walk was solo, but I met many people that had the same destination as me, we were encouraged and challenged by each other. Most of the next posts will expound on my personal journey and hopefully it can encourage and challenge you. There are things excepted in our society that we are familiar with, the thought never enters our mind to question, yet many of those things lead us away from our true self. There are disappointments, doubts, fear and anxieties that constantly plague us, or it did me. I never questioned those things, it was so much a part of my life, or I was so busy, it never garnered a thought of anything different.
My Camino walk will be woven into aspects of my life and where it is today. I am seventy-three years young, I don’t consider myself old, although the body does show some signs of wear. It is thought that as a person gets older things are different, they are, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In our younger years when we have a family and so many responsibilities is where we could appreciate somewhat of a reprieve. What I considered normal and as far as society goes is normal, caused me much self-inflicted grief. When I say self-inflicted grief it was because I choose to follow what was the norm, so can I blame anyone? No!
I embarked on this trek with no real understanding of what lay ahead. I’m going through two countries that speak French and Spanish, I speak English. I’ve never back-packed before, never done a long hike, never stayed in a hostel, and was never in Spain before. Everything is unknown, similar to how my life started many years ago. With all the unknowns, there was no fear or anxiety, more of an anticipation. I’m traveling eight hundred kilometers to an unknown destination and with no map. Three things kept me on the right trail. First I had the Camino book which did outline the trail, second was the Camino shell or yellow arrow that pointed the path to follow and third were fellow hikers. Those were my Camino companions. Next post–My Camino companions.