Thursday, October 21, 2010
It's strange being home again. The transition from the Camino to my 'real life' back here in Vancouver was abrupt, despite the two long days of travel and the 24 hours of sleeplessness. One moment I was in Santiago de Compostela, having dinner with new friends it felt like I'd known a lifetime and the next, I was getting back in touch with friends of a lifetime who I hadn't talked to in months.
My legs and feet are prone to stiffening up and cramping, restless, it seems, to get back to the hours of walking they'd become accustomed to. My body wants to sleep at inconvenient hours and the noise and busyness of what I used to think of as my peaceful life can make me long for the hours of relative solitude and quiet on the trail. Even while I was still walking, the bigger cities began to feel uncomfortable, like a continuous loud noise you can't get used to and can't wait to escape.
I've gone inside myself and seem to be having some trouble coming back out and being social. Which is strange, because before I left I was very busy and very social. I think I'm still processing everything and it's probably not a bad thing if I keep processing it, growing and changing as a result of what I've done. People told me, before I went, that the Camino would change my life. And it has, in ways I'm very thankful for. Walking it gave me a perspective I couldn't have found staying here and continuing on the way I always have. It also gave me the luxury of time - time to consider who I am, what I want, and what I believe in. Too often these big questions are put aside, consciously or unconsciously, until we find some time (which never actually happens, it seems).
On the Camino I remembered how good I feel being out in nature, watching the sun come up and paint the sky amazing colors, walking amongst the trees, breathing the air, listening to the birds, and feeling the wind stroke my face and play with my hair. I learned to let go, let things happen, open myself to new possibilities and to rejoice in being in the moment, whatever that moment brought. I recovered my faith in the world, in God, and in other people. Most of all, I recovered my faith in myself. Once you walk the Camino, you believe you can do anything. You don't believe it'll always be easy, because walking 800 kilometers isn't easy. But you learn that if you just keep moving, doing your part and putting one foot after the other, eventually you get there. And the places you go, the things you see, and the people you meet are more than reward enough for your effort. Getting there in the end is a bonus. Life, like the Camino, is about the journey, not the destination. And what a wonderful trip I am on!
I am lucky to have amazing people to share my journey with and I'm happy that I'm healthy enough to have come the way I have so far. Tonight, some of those amazing people will celebrate with me the gifts we've all been given. They will fill the room with music and the joy of living and we will try, one more time, to help those whose journeys may be cut short by cancer. From 6 to 9 pm, we'll be at the Yale hotel downtown (1300 Granville St, Vancouver). Come down and join us!