Why I walked the Camino (2)

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.

THE INCEPTION

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.

FIRST TASTE

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.

THE CALLING

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.

SO… WHY?

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.

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Pilgrimage through Spain as a polliwog (#1)

I sit here looking at my little gift that weighs a thousand kilos in worth; thinking of how I came by it. It’s a small metallic token, that resembles a tadpole fashioned in an oriental looking way. A polliwog, a symbol of transformation and a sign of luck. It’s in my hands to remind me of the constant change the world is in, and the change in me. Sometimes, it  is better to roll with that change than fight against it (Personal Growth) and when you embrace this,  you can see the light you are looking for. It is a token of real friendship and a token to remind me of what I can bring to people’s lives and what they see in me.

Thanks Willy 🙂

polliwog

I suddenly warp through images;  of the fields, rocks, mountains, rivers and of the physical pains, joys and moments of awe I experienced on the journey I undertook last year.

I will write a series of posts with a number beside them to indicate that they belong to my diary of the Camino de Santiago  that I walked from September 11 to October 16  last year through the Spanish country side. I begun my walk in France in a town bordering Spain called St Jean Pied De Port. I like walking (apparently alot)  and so I did it for over 800 kms.

The Camino is a pilgrimage and throughout my posts I will include all the “talk”, history, feelings and popular beliefs regarding this walk are that I learned along the way.  I don’t want to write about my camino solely logistically. However, I will share what I do know and if you are interested you can contact me for more information.

Camino? What is a Camino? A little bit of history

It’s roots as a pilgrimage date back to pagan times, but it is better known as a Christian pilgrimage established during the middle ages, in the times of los templarios (The Knights of Templars). It is believed that the apostle Saint James walked this  way to the western coast of Spain, spreading the word of Christ. A Cathedral can be found at Santiago de Compostela (James of “Field of Stars” which holds the meaning burial ground) where it is said the bones of St. James lay.

The Scallop shell is a symbol of this way as is the cross of Saint James. The shell is representative of the way as St James walked to the coastal town of Finisterre. During these times  Finisterre was believed to be the end of the world – such that Columbus set sail from here- and it was the most western point and if you walked here, you basically were journeying to the end of the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The shell also signified your completion of the walk as you had to get to the coast in order to get one, you had achieved the way. History tells that many prisoners were sent from France (from towns like Lu Puy and St Jean and many others) to walk this way in order to repent for whatever crimes they had committed. Pilgrims walked this way to repent their sins, get away from their horrid medieval lives and to be closer to their God, their Christ and honour the memory of St James.

Why walk for so long? 

The reasons are plenty and I will spend longer writing about those also, but just to give you an idea:

People begin their camino from many places in the world, some in phases and some all at once. Some people walk for weeks and weeks, just for sport, or for their love for God, or for spiritual reasons, just to walk, or for a cheap holiday if you happen to be Spanish.

As you see this is not merely a two-dimensional topic, and I have learned so much from it that I want to share, I will write posts based on my experiences, stories, phases of the walk and try to keep to a timeline. I will try my best to keep it to chronological order, especially when it comes to the characters I met along the way, so that the story flows!

The title of this blog is actually named after one of the thoughts I had while I walked my Way …

I was walking through the woods, a few days from Santiago De Compostela, and it was raining something hard, the blisters on my feet did not permit me to wear my waterproof boots that did not even keep out the water, so I was walking in flip flops, flicking mud onto the back of my legs as I did so. Walking along, singing loudly as I had no permanent walking companions at this point. All my friends were either behind me or ahead of me and I needed some solitude to gather my thoughts and finally find my own strength. Positive words of encouragement always helped me keep my stride keep walking but they weren’t around when I stepped into a puddle of mud or felt water seeping through my poncho down my back. I, like many others had my hood on all day looked, watched out for rolling rocks and pebbles, and swum against the muddy tide. It was simply never ending and it kept flowing, mixing with the poops of all the bacas all over the darn place.

After this negative moment I told myself to snap out of it. I had come this far, and I had done it with help or alone but I had done it. With my own two feet. Many people had advice what I should do, what I shouldn’t do bla bla bla. But at the end of the day I did it with my own two feet. It was my own little left and right sweet beautiful little toes that I put through hell that did the walking. My body and my will kept me going no matter what was happening physically and mentally.

This wasn’t a “omg I did it” moment, it was more in the sense that in life, sometimes we are dreading moments or dreading situations because we don’t know that we can actually do it, and with all the help we get to achieve anything at the end of the day it needs good old fashioned elbow grease. This is not to say that people expect things to be given just that occasionally the advice of others can interfere with our dreams and it’s until we walk the path ourselves do we know whether it is the right way to go by us.This seems simple, but lives are complicated these days by external factors.

And I thought… jeez, I could write a book about all this ish and call it…. My Own Two Feet.

Way to be cheesy huh.

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If you’ve read this far thank you thank you thank you!

Later Alligators!