I’ve been doing A LOT of reading/research about the Camino. I can’t get the Camino off my mind, and I don’t know if I want to: this summer is shaping up to potentially be one of the greatest of my life, and I’m feeling more excitement by the day.
But recently, I’ve wondered if I’m doing too much research. If I’m trying to over-prepare.
Right now, I’m a bit overwhelmed by everything I need to purchase for this trip. It’s not even that I need so much: a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, a few t-shirts, socks, a sleeping bag, a pack, shoes. A few extras, too: a lightweight fleece and a rain jacket, maybe a sarong because I hear those things can be used in dozens of different ways.
The thing is, I don’t really “know” anything about hiking/backpacking/travel gear. I’m learning about lightweight, moisture wicking clothing, about synthetic vs cotton, the importance of ounces and grams. I’m weeding through review after review, curious about what others have used on the Camino, what worked, what didn’t.
I’m finding myself wanting to get everything just right.
And it’s not just my gear, it’s everything else, too. What camera should I bring? Should I break up the monstrous first day with an overnight in Orrison? Which albergues should I stay in? Which ones should I avoid?
I haven’t fallen down the rabbit hole yet, but I’m dangerously close.
I’m beginning to fool myself into thinking that I can have the perfect Camino. The ideal pack, not an ounce too heavy. Bringing every essential item and leaving behind all the non-essentials. Walking 500 miles without a single blister. Seeing all the “must-sees” along the way, staying at the best albergues.
There is something that I must remind myself of repeatedly in the next three months, as I continue to prepare for my trip: There is no such thing as a perfect Camino. I will not get everything just right. There will be beauty in my mistakes. There will be discovery in the unknown.
I can’t fly off to Spain completely blind, with no idea what I’m getting myself into. If I took that approach, I’d probably never buy a plane ticket or walk a single step on ‘the way’. I’d be too scared. At times, I envy a “blind” approach: knowing little about the towns and cities I’ll be passing through, throwing a few things in a pack and figuring it out as I go along. Some people will approach their Camino in this way, and I think to do that would be an incredible thing.
But that’s not my way. Instead, I’m finding my balance, my own way to approach this Camino. I’ve given up on the idea of trying to do everything ‘just right’, and it’s taken the pressure off. I’m going to research the things I need to buy for this trip, but I’m not going to obsess: I’ll buy some pants and a light sleeping bag and if something is not right: if I’m too hot or too cold or uncomfortable with my gear, I’ll figure it out while I’m in Spain.
In the reading that I’ve already done, I’ve discovered a few things and places along the Camino that I’ve very curious about: my own ‘must-sees’. But I’m keeping that list small. I want to be able to set off on my Camino with a vague and flexible itinerary. I’ll stop walking when I want to stop walking, keep walking when I want to keep walking. Maybe I’ll stay in the “popular” places, maybe I’ll take detours, maybe I’ll walk with others, maybe I’ll walk alone.
There will be no perfect Camino. There will be only my Camino.