Santiago… is not a man 🙂 nor an infant 🙂 It could my Eldorado.
Santiago was a destination. A goal. An objective.
Santiago is now a memory.
Santiago is my lesson.
I would say almost 4 years passed since that trip. Only now do I realise what it meant. Or perhaps, I knew even then but on a superficial level. I remember booking a ticket for Bilbao, with return 35 days later, and I left with a backpack. I thought I knew why I left but like it happens… there are reasons for which we do things which stay hidden behind the reasons we tell ourselves and to others. Then at the right moment they pop up.
There I was.
There I am.
I think that trip initiated a list of changes in me, supported by unnumbered situations. Some people, I’ve seen change radically right after the camino. Many don’t change at all, but tell themselves stories about being a changed person. I’ve heard and even met people who never left the camino – are in an endless loop of walking even after 10 years. To me it was complicated to change radically, I wasn’t ready. I probably needed to get slapped by life until I could stand up for myself and say no more. I kept chasing goals, chasing Santiago after Santiago. I kept a well polished and shiny suit to show the world 🙂 The woman I saw I was during that trip, or at least a glimpse of it, I thought was too hard to become… especially from the place I was back then. There really isn’t a map that takes us from here to “ourselves”, is there? There aren’t guidelines. Despite everybody becoming gurus of self loves, self respect, self whatever… there really is no manual! There are no instructions! You can take all the fucking self care baths and eat all the self love chocolate cake you want…. and still if you’re not ready YOU’RE NOT READY! You can say I’m done dating assholes but until life says so you will keep dating those assholes! Sometimes enough comes quick, other times it takes years and years and more errors and more forgiveness and more rerouting. You still need those fake friendships until you’re left alone when you need them for real. You need more empty promises until you start keeping the promises you make to yourself.
Today I asked a friend “what do you want really?”
He looked at me, “I don’t know. I came here for a reason that doesn’t make sense anymore now.”
I was walking around the city. Looking at people. And planning my future. Is Santiago worth it when we lose our health, happiness, and most importantly precious time? I look around and people chase endlessly something believing they will be happy when they get it.
Oh but my life.
My life is now. As I write.
A week. A month. Six months of life…. running, being frustrated, angry. For what?
Is it worth it? Is your dreams worth the price? I asked myself.
…. Is it even my dream? Was I chasing my Santiago or someone else? Because when I chased my Santiago… I felt different. I was truly enjoying every single moment. So much I didn’t care about Santiago at all… I enjoyed the route deeply, passionately. When reached Santiago I kept going… I went further, because after it there is Muxia and also Finisterre. And there the beer tasted sublime watching the sunset or having a 1 minute bath in the ocean! ….
What am I chasing today? Did I come for the right reasons to London?
But I am surely leaving for the good ones.
It’s been two and a half years since I walked the whole Santiago Way but I have never really spoken about it, let alone written. I left one day taking a month off work, I packed all I’ve been told would be necessary and also a guide. I started walking from Irun and that morning I remember very well thinking I would never be able to walk 900km-something to Santiago… by foot, alone!
These days I am thinking about it again, perhaps because part of me feels very lost in this world today. Too much is happening that I don’t understand and no matter how much I read or study I can’t rationalise it. I feel outside a circle of people caught in a “collective hysteria” – its official name is mass psychogenic disorder. The disorder is usually characterised by the mysterious spread of a variety of symptoms without a discernible cause. – And while this term usually refers to an illness, I feel like saying the symptom in this case is hatred and the cause is induced fear and brainwashing.
I’ve been laughed at so many times for saying that this is not the natural state of the human being!
I’ve been told that wars and killings have always existed and will always exist, and while that is true it’s also true that the human being doesn’t want that. We are not born like that.
Half way through my trip I realised two things: I can literally live and be happy owning nothing and that a place is not special for the place in itself but it’s the people who make it special. Both thoughts came striking my mind like a lighting, I remember arriving in this village with few houses and one little store.. For some reason it was the first time I realised I was feeling happy and I looked around wondering why am I happy since I have nothing, I’m dirty, I’m extremely cold, I’m hungry, there’s nothing around in this place if not desolation, I need to share the room yet again with other 10 strangers, the showers suck and water is not very hot, and I need to wait 4 hours to eat unless I cook something for myself (this is the only bad thing about Camino in Spain: all restaurants open at like 9pm!!!!!!!!!)… It’s not possible that I’m happy, I have no reason. And then I got it, I was happy full stop. Happy and in peace inside, somehow. So I know it’s possible, I know there is THAT place (or space) inside each one of us and it’s independent from the outside world entirely.
To have nothing…. to own nothing… to be everything.
There is an indescribable liberation in not owning anything, only the necessary. But even then, nowadays I look around and the “necessary” is something unknown to the majority. Could you live without your car? Your house? Your phone?… Could you wear the same clothes over and over for a month? Could you make it with one pair of shoes?… I know it’s extreme. But again, possible. How can you really find yourself when it’s buried under a pile of things? I’m not saying we all must do that now, but we should all experience it: to find out what is left of us when stripped off of useless stuff.
Sharing… Helping… Listening… Accepting… Respecting…. Things we forgot but as humans we are all capable of.
I wondered why it’s hard to accept others and their choices in the real world. For example, I had met people along the Way and we became close friends and at times would walk together BUT if one morning I woke up and left without saying anything, or if all of a sudden I didn’t want anymore to walk together or eat together it was all accepted. Why? Because in the end we came alone to walk. Though if you think about it… we came alone to this world too and we are made believe we need another person, we need to keep the same friendships, we need to stay on the path chosen, we need to keep going and be strong even when our legs scream to stop, we need to walk with the group, we need to build a family, we need to have a job (and possibly a secure one), we need to want things (otherwise we are labeled as depressed or wrong), we need we need we need, we need to hide our feelings, we need to hide our thoughts, we need to control others, we need to plan out our life,… should I go on listing the things WE.NEED.TO.DO.? What are you doing that you have been told you need to do? And can you think of something you want to do instead?
I am very happy to share with you what I have learned about myself!! Really 🙂 And thank you so so much for reading ❤ THAN YOU ❤
Change. No planning. Trust.
I said I started from Irun, that is the beginning of the Camino de Norte which is super beautiful and in April there are not many people doing it because uhm it’s rain season lol (of course I didn’t know but I learned the sense of the quote “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain…” and man did I learn!). Throughout the over 30 days of my trip, I saw the sun for maybe a maximum of 10 days!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I was always wet and always cold. However, I had with me a book explaining the stops so every day I was sure I knew where I was heading and how many kilometers and where I would sleep. After a bit over two weeks I realised I was bored! The landscapes were beautiful but I felt I was missing something, I wasn’t learning… I mean, I learned everything I had to learn up until then and the days were only repeating. One day I arrived to a beautiful medieval village and it was weekend, the tourists were everywhere and I felt sick from the chaos… also, a voice in me said: keep walking. But where? I had walked 25km and the next place I could stay at was 12km away (so was written in the guide) and it was afternoon. I sat to drink a coffee and then something in me said “ok, i’ll go… I can’t stay here, i don’t feel good… I must go, I can walk fast and reach the monastery before sunset”. I left, I was flying, and after 5 km I found the albergue that changed the course of my trip from then on… that albergue was not written in my guide, nor in any guide. Go figure why.
At a certain point, the Camino de Norte puts you in front of a choice: you can keep going on the same Way (keep doing what you have known and know) or switch onto the Camino Primitivo (which is much tougher and less travelled). I did not have a guide for it, nor had I documented myself about it but I tool a leap of faith – in myself – and changed. I threw away the guide, and had only the name of the town I was supposed to reach written on a piece of paper. How many kilometers? Had no clue! What would I encounter? No clue. Where would I sleep? No clue. But it was exciting! That day, I haven’t encountered one pilgrim and did doubt I made the right choice… I could still go back. When I arrived to the town I found where to sleep, and when I walked in I was welcomed by a pilgrim I had never met before: he spoke only Spanish and welcomed me offering all the food he had with him because I must’ve been hungry. Later he asked me if I would like to go have a beer with him and a friend who arrived to visit him by car. On the way to the beer we went to the supermarket and bought something for breakfast, he told me he had coffee and I shouldn’t worry about that. The following day, we parted: same direction but different means, I was by foot and he was by bike. We never met again but this is something impossible to forget. Many times I found myself without food and EVERY TIME there was someone with extra food who would share everything they had with me. I repeat: many times I found myself without food and a stranger fed me. This is humanity, the natural state of humanity… realising we are all in this together, we are all walking the same direction. So why not help? Why not share? I think at a certain point I even thought that some people are naturally predisposed to carrying more food than they need only to help others.
The Primitivo initiated me to myself and more lessons were learned. One was on relationships.
I met someone little before arriving to Santiago. We lived a romance which didn’t last after the trip because being on the Way is different than being in the real world where we are constantly bombarded with problems. In the real world relationships are rarely lived with a peaceful and trustworthy spirit, but on The Way there is no attachment and there is a general trust in everything: if it’s meant to be we will meet in that village, or we will meet half way, or we won’t meet until sunset etc and the space, the time and the whole person is very much respected and accepted for who he/she is. There is no drama. There is a lot of freedom! How beautiful if that could be learned in the daily life. How beautiful if your partner didn’t go nuts every time you talked to a stranger, or met someone new, or walked a day with someone who is not your partner. No? Well, we live in a world where again even relationships have been bent to expectations which most of the times are not part of the people living according them. Stop and think. Why many people are not happy in relationships? Because when you start a relationship it’s like you enter a box, and generally you and the other person change to fit into it. …
Exactly on the 30th day I reached Santiago! Alone? No. I was with two friends.
I should’ve been happy… but I felt weird. The streets of Santiago were full of people partying the success, thousands of people drinking beer, screaming, dancing, and generally being happy. So why wasn’t I happy? … I could smile and laugh but deep down I was sad because arriving to Santiago meant the end of the trip. Walking 30 days taught me about myself and how to deal with things in my life, there were days when even 1km was too much and I would be angry for no reason and the backpack would weight twice as much although the same as yesterday. What to do those days? You just walk. You slow down but keep walking. You know you will get there sooner or later. I realised I can finish something if I really really want it. I realised how strong my legs are and how amazing my body is. I also realised that we all have our ways to do things and walk on this beautiful path called Life, and each way is equally valid. This is why today I don’t understand why there is so much hatred for the man next door when we are all visitors somewhere. We are all at home everywhere and nowhere at the same time. And Thank God we are all different because we would die of boredom and madness if everyone we met looked like us and spoke like us and ate like us. How could someone REALLY want and hope for a world looking the same everywhere we go? Because to be united doesn’t mean looking the same nor thinking the same nor speaking the same language. They have made you believe that if you uniform the people and the world you will all be united BUT it’s the biggest lie ever!
To uniform yourself means to be fake, to act according to a script (written by who?). Instead, be proud of your roots and your language and how you look. And you can think I’m naive and haven’t seen the world, but it’s true and I can say it because I did see the world and I did see this possible. I’ve seen how people are guided by their heart when they are free. And I’ve seen how much kindness there is in everyone towards anyone. This is why I recommend walking the Way, because if you doubt all this… there you will experience it’s possible.
Respect is all is really needed.
Oh and limits. After Santiago, my friends and I kept going… direction: End of the World! 😀
But really the beginning of something new.
Please realise we live in a trap: a mental trap. Please remember how many people were killed because of absurd ideologies. We live a comeback of those times just in other forms, with different names. We thought something like that would never happen again. But around the world certain things never stopped happening. There is a different way, a beautiful and heartfelt way… but first we must realise on which one we are walking today!