“I think it’s in the nothingness that I found everything. I needed the shooting pain in my feet to remind me that I was alive.”
“I never actually asked myself ‘why’ I went on the Camino. By nature, I have always been a precocious busybody, trying to get ahead in life and doing as much as humanly possible to grow my personal and professional ‘CVs.’ I found myself finishing my degree only to launch myself into a new fast-tracked degree in a few months’ time while working impossible hours and juggling every commitment and responsibility I could take on. Was it to get away from this hectic path? Or was it because I needed to remove the ink stain of self-blame and dirtiness that I felt after a traumatic event I still don’t talk about? I guess it wasn’t any one of these exactly, but I knew I needed to get away from everything ‘else’ to get to myself.
The first and most important impression I had of the Camino was the feeling of being stripped down to the essentials: the clothes on my body, the skin on my feet, the meagre lunch of cheese and nuts, the backpack that soon felt like another part of my body. I was one with the earth, my feet always connected to it, inching me along across like a snail in a desert, like a fleshy worm across gravel.
To me, the Camino is everything and nothing at all. I think it’s in the nothingness that I found everything. I needed the shooting pain in my feet to remind me that I was alive, the never-ending hills and ups and downs, and the sensory discovery of everything simple and beautiful to find the silence in myself. Along the Camino, I picked up many life lessons like gems in the dirt that I added to my personal baggage; my ‘self.’ These tiny life lessons resulted from interactions, encounters, and situations. I learned how to say ‘no;’ that leaving the bad behind left space for the good; the existence of pure love; the importance of following gut feelings; and the evidence of pure kindness in people. The most magical part, I would say, is that I did not have any ‘grand revelation’ but this: I am at peace and content with myself. I wasn’t looking for it, but I found it on the road, like a part of me that was there all along, a cord attached to me that had been trailing behind me in the dirt, forgotten. I found it when I was all alone for 17 km between towns, with no other soul in sight, walking one of the less popular alternate Roman roads through the Meseta, with nothing behind me and nothing in front of me besides myself. Ultreia!”