Left or right? Yes or No? High road or low road? There come moments in all of our lives when there is a shift or a line that gets crossed. A change. A choice that gets made, and everything that comes after will be different. Sometimes it's obvious and clear for anyone to see. Sometimes the changes can be so subtle. I think sometimes those quiet ones may have the most lasting effect.
I knew the Camino, this Camino, was important for me. I knew I would have time to think, uninterrupted. Time to just be, completely removed from all the "things" that make up my so called life. No distractions. To the point I lost all track of the days of the week! The most obvious and funny one was sitting in Hontanas as the bells began to peal, looking at another pilgrim and wondering why. It was it turns out, Sunday morning!
I find myself viewing a lot of my life as before and after the Camino. There were immediate and obvious changes, like the 16+ lbs left behind in the Pyrenees and the mountains of Galicia. There are others, quiet ones that aren't as easy to define. And I don't think El Camino is done with me yet!! Seeing where this all leads is going to be interesting. Probably almost as interesting as the Camino was. Interesting for me at least...I do realize that for others, it might be as exciting as watching grass grow or paint dry
Strange, but I have been told by a few people that while they can't put a finger on it...they think I've changed. I don't know that I thought any of this to be obvious to anyone outside my family. A friend from the gym, had no idea where I'd gone or what I'd done, stopped me and asked what was up, why did I seem different. I think maybe the changes are a little like what happened to my hiking shoes. When I left home they were green and grey. Each day that went by they grew a little more worn (and a little more cofortable too!). When I got to Santiago, they were nearly unrecognizable. I have similar pair of Keens here at home that have seen way fewer miles and still resemble their original color and shape. And, while at times it felt like I'd worn my feet 'n legs down to mere nubs, here too is proof that the feet came thru in one piece too!
Just a few thoughts and samples of little things that have changed:
- Writting - constantly. Which is funny, 'cause I didn't write a journal 'cept for this blog while actually on the Camino! Then I just wanted to in the moment.
- Trying poetry even! Ok, so haven't exactly gone public with any, but I get immense satisfaction out of it.
- Watch very little TV, some times nothing for days on end.
- Really making space and time for all the good people in my life. Only the good...the others, I just don't sweat anymore. I don't specifically push them away, I just don't make room for them.
- Haven't set foot in a shopping mall since my return, and very few other retail establishments outside of the grocery store. Now FYI, I live only a few miles from the first ever modern indoor shopping mall. It all started here in NJ! Sheesh!
- Do more things completely independently. So I want to go hike in Wharton State Forest. No one to go with, no problem. Tell the rangers and head out. Simple as that.
- Have not bought a single article of clothing since the scarf I bought in Santiago de Compostella. My last job was in a clothing store so this is pretty funny, and I like it!
- Finally got the courage to paint and I don't mean change the color of a room! I drew a sketch for a particular space below the stairs in our house ten years ago. Now I finally have the courage to put it on the wall! Great art? No, but very satisfying!
on the wall it was drawn for:
Last but in no way least, perhaps one of the greatest changes is the acceptance of things that are simply, unchangeable. Myself or rather the body I inhabit. For all that I lost weight walking the Camino Frances, I've learned that this is a sturdy strong body that I live in. Size is not important. Being healthy is. Being comfortable and confident in my own skin is. Accepting who I am at 55 is. And that, as the ole Master Card commercials say, is priceless!