I know this post deserves a better title. This is what I want to talk about today: why I walked the Camino.
Actually I am very nervous writing this post, but this is key to my story. My journey was more than physical, it was meta-physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, and most importantly cognitive and meta-cognitive. Ridiculously.
It was my way of breaking free from all the things that made me “unhappy”. There were evil minions ruminating inside, and simply; they had to be silenced by drowning them out by something more worthwhile to listen to.
Like most dreamers I, of course, read the Alchemist. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative nature of the tale and read a few more of Coehlo’s books and also did a quick Wiki search on biography. Along the way I discovered he had walked ” El Camino De Santiago”. At the time I thought all the references to the things he experienced I assumed were metaphorical (later on I discovered some strange things about him-tangent I know-). Whatever it was, it just called to me, and I started reading more about it, read about it on forums, looked at it on a map and thought, this is something that I want to do. I wanted an experience just like it.
I didn’t really know why, I did not really know anyone like me, anyone who WOULD embark on this type of journey/adventure. I read more about it and decided that one day I was going to walk this. I didn’t read about the logistical components of the way just stories and quickly read through other accounts. I could hardly bring myself to even watch a youtube clip on it. It was all very brief.
My approach to adventures seems to be : I want to know as much as I need but as least as possible.
In February 2012 I had a mid-life crisis. I realised that I was not fulfilling any of my travel dreams, and I felt anchored to my life and stretched like an elastic band. I was not sure what my existence was about: My job lacked “fulfilment” I was looking for and I felt that everyone else was finding their “personal legends” (this of course I now know is not true). I was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. People in my life were getting married and engaged, and I wanted wholly to be a part of these incredible experiences because I love my friends! But I felt like they were coming left right and centre and I didn’t want to miss any of it.
Meaning- I couldn’t find the appropriate bracket of time to travel. For a significant amount of time, that is. Come on, I need at least 8 weeks. I live in Australia… anywhere worth going is at least 24 hours air time.
So I found a time bracket. There was crying there was stress, there were long talks and advice. But I made a decision and I was going to spend some time travelling and camino was a part of this. However from the original plan of walking for 3 weeks, it dropped down to 1; while I was in Spain I could see this place and that place and … you see what happened.
I don’t really want to talk about my first camino at this point, because it is not the experience I want to share at this present moment. Basically, it taught me many lessons on how to be better prepared and what to expect. It was as if it was in the plan that I needed that practice. The way it worked out is just too good to be true.
THE IDEA OF HER REVISITS
After my returning home in 2012, something happened. I don’t know exactly how it happened, it was a few things, multifactorial, and most importantly I was unable to rationalise it.
I was in a rut and that spiralled further and further down. Before I knew it, I was suffering from depression and anxiety again. Just like when I was 19. It was like the Black Dog I thought I knew had crept up behind me and bit me before I realised he was there. I had some very dark days that I don’t need to explain. The walls were closing in and I forgot who I was.
So I did what I had to, because I love life and I don’t give up. Well sometimes I wanted to, but I have some incredible people in my life, so that was not an option. I sought out a few avenues for help and I diligently followed through. I was going to get through this and I was going to begin the retraining of my brain. I was going to find Gariné, I was going to find that voice and trust it again.
I also needed to get away. My cognitive load was overflowing and I wanted to simplify my existence, I wanted to be far from everything but not be without remaining occupied. I considered my other options; a health retreat in Australia, time off work, but those options were either too expensive, or were going to result in idle time not well spent.
So why not go to Spain and walk, sleep along the way without too much choice, but not restricted either. It was perfect.
I got the calling, it just hit me. Camino… Walk the Camino G. Just do it! Thus it was born and I became obsessed with the idea. I just wanted to walk, Suddenly my life found the glimmer of hope I was looking for. All of my hard work was starting to pay off too, and I was beginning to see the light again.
I could see the light and I was going to walk towards it. In hindsight I can see what I needed, but at the time, all I wanted to do was walk. My heart desired to be out and open, roll around in the world and be one with it. I love culture, travel and a good solid challenge. Especially when people told me it is crazy or dangerous; because they just don’t know.
I walked the camino because I wanted adventure and it called me. I walked the camino because I was depressed and I just wanted a break from life. I wanted to push the pause button and fly away.
I just wanted to walk, and I wanted to find my voice again, my intuition (which I was going to realise later). I wanted to be outdoors but I didn’t want to compete or race. I wanted to go at my own pace and I wanted to see what I could do. I was lost and feeling alone and so depressed. But I was emerging out of it but with a lot of work, I deserved a break!
I wanted to be closer to God, I wanted to re discover my spirituality and faith in both my God and my universe. And I wanted to do it in a safe place. In a community of people who would understand my need to “walk”. The Camino is so safe, it is a part of the world that cradles you to sleep, it takes care of you and essentially teaches you to love and care for yourself as well as others (which is usually not the challenge for some). It is a wonderful place and that is what I needed. Some soul searching, some singing, some fun, some new people and some good old fresh air.
And I’ve got to tell you, I got that and a whole lot more.