I’m sipping a glass of wine (a tempranillo, got to prepare for my Camino!), and eating a small bowl of potato chips. At some point along the Camino, potato chips became my go-to snack (I don’t think this counts as tapas) to go along with a glass of wine. I think it was my friend Mirra who first introduced me to this combination, when we took a bottle of Rioja and a bag of papas fritas down to the banks of a river in Najera, to sit and talk and stretch out our legs after a long day of walking.
In the last week or so, I’ve been consumed with memories from the first portion of my walk on the Camino. I think it’s because everyone’s on the Camino, these days: blog friends and Philadelphia Camino friends and even a real-life Camino friend, from last year. They’re posting blog posts and photos- “I made it over the Pyrenees!”, and “Here’s Belorado in the rain” and “Passed through the small, quaint village of Ages”.
I’ve loved seeing these updates; I click on every photo so it enlarges on my screen, and I press my face in close to examine the image for the tiny details that I might have forgotten, to peer at each stretch of road, knowing that I walked the same path nearly a year ago. It almost makes me want to return to the Frances, to walk that road again.
But it’s too soon to go back to that particular path, not yet anyway. The Norte is still my plan for June, although I have to say- this year’s preparations and anticipations are completely different from what I experienced last year.
Maybe that’s one reason this blog has been a little quiet. I assumed that by now, I’d have a lot to write about- my training and the things I’ll be packing and my thoughts and impressions of a second Camino. I’ve had so many thoughts, but they’re all still muddled up there in my head. Sometimes, I still wonder if I shouldn’t be spending the month in France, writing, instead of walking. Sometimes I worry that I’m going back to look for something I never found on the first Camino, something I can’t even identify. Sometimes I think I want a re-do of certain aspects from the end of my Camino. Sometimes I think that if I had figured out more about my life in this past year, I wouldn’t feel the need to go back for another Camino.
But a lot of those thoughts are based in fear and control, aren’t they? I still want to choose the exact, perfect thing to do this summer, the thing that will help me out the most in my life, the thing that will point me in the “right” direction. Nothing I do this summer will really give me that, of course, and finding direction is just about taking steps towards something- anything- and then figuring it out as you move along. And in this past year, I’ve been doing that. I just need to keep moving, and practice some patience.
So that’s been my word, lately. Patience. I tell this to myself as I sit in a long line of traffic on the way to work. I tell this to myself as I hurry through the last miles of a training hike, my voice saying, “Slow down. Not amount of rushing will bring this Camino any closer.” I try to practice patience as I look through photos of friends on their Camino, envious of their days spent walking through Spain. I try to practice patience with my writing, as I wait to hear back about an essay I’ve submitted, as I wait to find the right words to say something.
And maybe the biggest is this: practicing patience about the direction of my life. I’ll get to wherever I’m going, I’m sure of it. I want to be there NOW, I want to have all the answers to so many of the questions. I know that I’m going to be okay, and yet, I just want a flash of an image from my life, 5 years from now, of the 39 (yikes) year old me. Just a little reassurance that the decisions I’m making now, the things I’m testing out now, are going to lead me somewhere good.
So in the meantime I’m just going to keep trucking along- drinking my wine and eating my potato chips, hiking miles through a park, practicing Spanish phrases, writing my essays and making to-do lists for my next Camino. Despite the unknowns, these are such good and beautiful days.
Yes to your clarity and movement and muddled thinking. The word patience sounds like a soulful choice given all that’s coming up (or not, frustratingly). It’s so hard to catch oneself in the moment of doing it the old way, but that’s where the power is. That’s where the choice is.
I too feel the energy of everyone going (or at least it *seems* that way!). I keep thinking of both you and Elissa (sometimesshetravels.com)–two of my blogging sisters–leaving to walk this summer. And I want to go too! 🙂 While staying home and walking other paths is the right thing for me, the Camino calls. Maybe forever.
I lift my glass to both your outer journey and the inner one that guides it all. (I’ll have to try the chips.) In the meantime, courage peregrina!
Thank you Jen! I wish you could be walking the Norte this summer too- how much fun would it be to run into an “online” Camino friend every few days? But the great thing about the Camino is that it will always be there, and as long as your calling is, too, then I’m convinced you will be back on the path one day, when it is right.
I’m so curious to know what this Camino will be like for me… so anxious to find out… that I have to keep saying to myself, “Patience, Nadine, patience!!”
Anika Goldhahn says
Hi Nadine, once again I can very much resonate with what you have written, especially with the worried thoughts of: What if I get disappointed on the camino this time?
Surely, it will not be the same, but it might just be a completely new adventure all together. I too have now decided for a certain when I want to leave for my next camino (end of August). However, this year it’s going to be different as I am in a relationship this time. I am wondering: Will it be like the other two times? Can I indulge in the experience or will I want to be home, cuddled up on the sofa with my boyfriend? …especially since at some point he will move away to another country….his plans are not sure yet, but I might come back home from my Camino at the end of September just to say goodbye forever to my new found love. And I keep wondering: Should I do another camino? Should I skip it this year to spend the remaining time with my boyfriend? And the answer is: No. It surely will be a different experience, but I am willing to experience that too. I try not to worry too much about how things will be like or not be like, but just let it happen. And the great thing is: Every day you can make a new decision. In your case…every day you can decide to go to France and have a retreat instead….to go anywhere, for a holiday or just find a nice area and stay there and indulge in writing. The beauty about the camino is that it makes us free. 🙂
I had the biggest smile on my face by the time I finished reading this, Anika… and I loved the last line: “The beauty about the Camino is that it makes us free.” You’re completely right about that, and it’s what I’m trying to remember as I sit here, waiting to get to Spain. I can do anything I want once I’m there, and I think the biggest reason I’m going back is to regain that feeling of freedom.
I also wanted to say, congrats about your boyfriend! This does make your upcoming Camino a little different, especially with so many unknowns now. But I really believe that it’s important to do what you need to in your life… if you stay at home and skip a Camino, you don’t want the feeling of regret and bitterness that you didn’t do this. I keep thinking about control: we absolutely can’t know the “right” answer, especially when it comes to living our lives. We just have to go with what feels right. It seems like you are doing an amazing job with that. 🙂 🙂
Hi Nadine, It’s me again, catching up on old emails.
I read this particular post while I was on the Camino. In fact, I was in Ponferrada that day, laid up by a bad blister that I thought was infected and a swollen leg and ankle, sure that I was fighting another bout of DVT.
Anyway, I was pretty depressed that day, thinking I was not able to complete the Camino, and worse, that I would spend a couple of weeks in a Spanish hospital.
Your post was a big lift to me that day and I thank you for it.
Hi Joe, this comment meant so much to me. I’m so happy that this post could provide some comfort or a boost on a challenging Camino day. Thanks again for continuing to read… people like you are what make keeping a blog such a wonderful experience.