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.