PALAS DE REI – Now the Camino is really crowded with pilgrims, most who joined a few days ago for the last 100km. They had been fresh and shiny but everyone is showing signs of weariness, and their clothes and equipment have that same dusty used look as mine. We are all one family, now, or at least look that way. The guidebooks had been clear to not allow a feeling of superiority, or a spirit of judgment about the fresh faces when they joined. The Camino starts when you begin.
I am reminded of something Simon said a few days ago: “Judgment of others starts from within,” I think he means that what we judge others on, is actually a self-critique. Except for the increase of bicycles, the new pilgrims have been a welcome distraction to these last 60miles. The bicycles are another matter.
The phrase “Buen Camino,” meaning Good Walk, is said it often. Depending on context, it means hello, good-bye, good-luck, or in the case of bicycles, it means “get the heck out of my way, I’m coming through!” A pilgrim response could be “use the darn road,” said like a cranky old man in black socks protecting his lawn (with stronger adjectives) but no real pilgrim would go there. I think the most aggravation I’ve felt on the Camino was when there was a paved road on either side, and still the bicycles in their tight pants raced down the path yelling “Buen Caminooooo…and I wanted to shout “use the #$%^ road.” They are universally despised.
Bicycles could be a chance for me to practice Simon’s judgment wisdom, but I’m sure even as chill as he was, he would grant me a bicycle exception. Simon says: “An awareness of judgment is the first step.” But then to help the judgment pass, he says I must both accept it and even be thankful for it. I’ve been getting a lot of practice.
To make things more interesting it has been unseasonably hot, like 95 (37c) hot. Today I walked until 6:30pm, walking only 16mi (26km) but that kind of heat did me in.
The Way is getting a little weird too, with all sorts of trinket vending, and people pushing an agenda, plus all these large groups of young people, old large people, loud, and they all move in clumps. “Half the work is an awareness of what is going on inside of me,” Simon would say. I notice the judgment I feel for them, thank it, accept it, and let it go. My intent is to not let it knock me off the Camino, but I’m still working on being grateful for it.
Most days a deep feeling of gratitude comes over me in the midmornings, about the time the sun has come out and I’m on my second cafe Americano. I feel a connection to something larger than myself. Not God-like much larger than I, more like the Milky Way connection. I think about the pilgrims who have walked these paths. What was The Camino speaking to them?
Back to my own issues, I think about pizza game theory, as in if I eat a slice, you have one less to choose from (otherwise known as Zero Sums). I try to imagine a scenario where the Project doesn’t have to choose. Instead of I have to go home… to I want to home. It all goes back to intent. What was my intent, and how does it help restore the life she was created to live? I can’t find the line between enabling and being supportive.
Being helpful, supportive only to see time I thought I was gaining get devoted to the Institution. My feeling about this informs me my intent was not pure, I was doing this for me and it backfired.
Each day closer to Santiago, I feel it’s approaching weight. What I will carry forward? What will leave behind? How will I return home after Santiago?
I keep getting asked about my expectations about arriving? I didn’t come with any expectations, and for me it has been more of a journey than a trip along the Ley Lines of Northern Spain. Not to get all Dan Browny, but legend holds this trail was an initiation of the Celts before Christ. “Veins of electromagnetic power in the earth and lines of energy (called ley lines) are said to be aligned with the Milky Way along the entire trail, all the way to Santiago de Compostela.” (I’m Off Then, K. Hape)
Peter, who arrived days ago warns me that it was a bit of a let down. I guess after walking two months to get here, it was going to be difficult to meet those expectations. My expectation will be relief, that I made it, that I won’t have to walk for a few days, or pack up in the mornings. I feel an excitement about the reunion of all the people I’ve walked with this past month. A bit like heaven, I expect, at least the reunion part.
I walk until 6:30 and 98 degrees. With that kind of heat it is difficult to stay hydrated. I’m one sweaty, stinky, dehydrated pilgrim. I started following the Brierary Plan, which gets me into Santiago on 19-June. I much prefer quitting when I’m tired.