If you have ever used a hammer to open a walnut, you know how the force it takes to break through the hard shell sends the soft, edible bits flying in many directions. (This was originally posted October 2012.) Walking the Camino did this to me. I have spent the last several weeks collecting up the soft bits and trying to reassemble them into my life.
The routines, patterns and generally robotic aspects of my life were difficult to break through and recognize while I was still engaged in them. Fly across an ocean with only the essentials you need to survive and walk for weeks in a country that you are unfamiliar with, that speaks another language and it throws your routine into disarray.
This was necessary for me to see myself more clearly. It is so easy to go through the motions of life without ever actually questioning your participation. Focusing on the abstract, the distant and the trivial instead of paying attention to the most important thing which is the present — your actual life — is like a societal obsession.
It has taken me weeks to get back to that familiar feeling of being in my own life and even though I have acquired that now, I must admit that my connection to this life is tenuous and unstructured. I’m back, but I am fundamentally different. No, that’s not true. I’m more myself. I have reclaimed the lost bits and I am willing to take them with me wherever I go.
Gone are the routines like coffee, shower, breakfast and work. Well, the coffee stayed of course… But every aspect of my life has been taken out, brushed off and examined. Parts of my who I am that I have not experienced for a while like my love of solitude, romance and politics are being welcomed back into my everyday existance.
I haven’t been writing because I haven’t had anything coherent to say. Like wading through thick mud that is hindering your movement and blocking your view, I’ve tried to carry on as I was before my trip and I’ve found it exhausting and unfamiliar.
I have realized that the price of being safe, conservative and following the rules are too high for me. This is a one time opportunity, this life, and I’m going to experience all that I can and engage in my life today, not some time in the future, not when I get a chance, not when I retire or win the lottery — now. Wish me luck.