Some Words that Accumulated
along the Camino in 2003
August 24, 2003--Today I read part of my logs of the Camino and decided it was time to put some of its words out there for you to chew on a bit. I hope you enjoy them and think a bit about what they say to you as you read them.
Take no one for granted. If someone seeks you out, do not put them off. Enjoy and respect all around.
Appreciate those who seek you. Accept it and be glad with that. If they become oppressive, deal with it when they become so, not before you first answer them.
Sometimes in life we pursue what is not obtainable precisely so that we cannot catch it. For we really are afraid to catch or be caught.
Seek all. Accept what comes. Accept what flees. Accept what neither comes nor flees--what is apathetic.
Live now. Enjoy this hour, this minute, this second.
Do not regret what is about to end. Enjoy it while it is here. It is here to be enjoyed. It will not return.
Like water flowing down a stream, time moves one down the Camino, that of Compostela and that of life. Ripple, ripple, ripple, silently it carries us on.
Everything in Galicia smells of cow dung and cow urine, especially in the tiny villages. Maybe that is what keeps everything so green here.
Be a free spirit. Do not get locked into any cage but that of your own choice. And be very careful about what you choose to lock yourself into. At the same, time remember that you always have the keys to get out. Do not hesitate to use them when you must.
In Santa Irene I ate supper alone in a pleasant restaurant. To ease the loneliness I felt that evening, I made a list of some of the things the Camino teaches. Some found their way into the list called "Some Camino Insights" published earlier here. Others were not chosen for obvious reasons you shall see as you read them. Still others could have joined the list but were missed or ignored for one reason or another. So here is what I wrote as I sat drinking red wine and eating a bony fish alone that evening.
- Life is step by step.
- The free spirits of the world must be allowed to remain free.
- Free spirits teach us a lot.
- Live NOW.
- Celebrate and enjoy you friends.
- Enjoy the wine.
- Keep putting one foot in front of the other. But once in a while speed up the pace--and slow it down.
- You can live without cigars. But they are an OK treat once in a while.
- Listen to the birds, the bees, the dogs, the cats, the donkeys, the cows, the wind, and whatever else blows past you.
- As you walk stop to smell the flowers--and the cow shit [maybe you do not have to stop to smell the latter--its aroma seems to catch you even if you are running].
- Taste the wine. Taste the vinegar. Know the difference--but don't worry about it.
- If you can, eat supper with someone.
- A bottle of wine with supper soothes rough edges. It also makes writing lists like this harder.
- Have an encounter with a free spirit at least once a day.
Is Finisterra really the physical manifestation of the psychological desire for the Camino not to end at Santiago?
Follow your tears, the spontaneous tears that well up from deep within when you least expect them. Listen to them and act on them.
The Camino is safe and well marked with usually easy to follow signs. Often life is neither. And yet the arrows are there if you look deep within to find them. So the Camino is and is not a good metaphor for life. The surface of life does not have the signs on many corners telling you where to go. But if you look inside the directions are there, you will know the way.
[I wrote this just after noon on the next to last day.]
The Atlantic lays a few kilometers to the west, its deep blue waters the source and end of life, its shore the end of our long walk. As we have suffered the pains and celebrated the joys of the Camino's so many miles, so we do in our own lives. As the Camino now soon ends at the Atlantic coast, so also soon our lives end at some unknown shore. Feel that death's presence. Let its emotion flow through you.
Beautiful towns nestled in hillsides as people in their best clothes hide the fact that all ends. As all has begun, so it ends, often on some obscure shore. This is clearly the end of the walk from Roncesvalles. The walk was not to see the box of bones of some long dead icon. Rather it was to feel the sting of the highway, the cold of the mornings, the heat of the sun, the disquiet of the wind on the body, the mind, the soul. In the same way, in life we are here to feel all that and more--and then to close the door. This is all we know. We do not know what is beyond this nearby shore. We can only believe that a journey's end is only the beginning of the next journey where we will begin to walk another road with different companions.
Is this just a long walk? Or is it more? Yes, it is a wonderful long walk, but much more. It is an experience of the mind, the soul, the body, and the heart as well. It is a search into and experience with our very essence.
Remember that the Camino has taught you that people can help you, and you them, in your quest for enlightenment.
When someone becomes attached to you and you reject them, remember that they can hurt, sometimes badly. Remember also if it is your duty to your soul to detach, you must do so. The other has chosen to become attached, But be careful to release, to reject them with as much class and heart an you can muster. And then trust them and the Universe to deal with your rejection. Get on with your life.
The best gift you can give to any other is to live a good life.
Do not choose unobtainable targets. You will miss them and, as much fun as the game may be, it will end up an unsuccessful, often disappointing exercise. But do not be afraid of the target reachable perhaps only in your wildest dreams--go for it. Make it work. On the other side of this. do not aim for a target you do not want to hit. You may succeed and hurt in the process.
Is a free spirit a nomad by nature, seldom staying in the same place for long? Is a free spirit condemned and freed at the same time to wander forever? Or will s/he one day settle down? Or is settling down only for the day someone lays her/him in the ground. The poor bugger who falls in with a free spirit (especially if s/he is sedentary), that poor bugger is in for a wild ride.
We look for a place to rest but it can be only in The One that we all are. Once we find that One, we no longer need to rest, we are resting.
It doesn't matter whether you are able to follow the "correct" road. There is no "correct" road. It only matters that you walk the distance and head for the goal. No, you do not have to even walk the distance. The real goal is to walk with openness to whatever the Universe puts in the path in front of you and along side of you.
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