It started a long time ago
It started when I began to walk up this toboggan hill in my local park, when I started to stomp around the track using my hiking poles (see them thrown down in the grass?). It started when I saw on Facebook that a friend I had met on a winter break in Mexico was walking the Camino. If she could…… It started when I found out what Gallicia was. It started when I realized I could be broken into pieces and yet be whole. It started with reading, with watching You Tube clips. It started when I booked tickets in 2020 – but Covid 19 had other ideas. All that wrangling to get my money back, that despair before a vaccination was available, all that feeling so old and hopeless crystalized my determination. Just as heat and pressure change coal into diamonds, the past two years have worked a change.
Was I really ready to walk in 2020? The world and its vagaries had other ideas. Perhaps I will be thwarted again, who knows. My days of saying “I’ve made up my mind” are done. I have learned the lesson that other people, world events, co-incidence can really throw me, bat me aside, show up “my mind” for the little thing it is. Still I’ve set another date and even booked one night’s lodging at Orisson Auberge, half way up a mountain. I don’t have a plane ticket. I don’t even have a valid passport (every day I check the mailbox and I really think I’ll get it next week) but everything will be planned around that first day’s walk in mid September.
Even when I had no real hope of getting to the Camino de Santiago in Spain, I still kept on doing my laps and climbing up the toboggan hill again and again. I’m not a sporty person and normally I hate exercise but something made me keep at this even through a Montreal winter.
I have to fight my own moral compass too. With the terrible fires and floods all over the world I considered making a vow never to fly again as a sort of personal effort to show our dear world that I respect it, that nature should be cherished. I’m not ready yet though. This might be my last big trip. After all, I am 73. “But at my back, I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” (Andrew Marvel) I will keep on trying – but no more “I will do it!” The ego of that is better controlled.
So although the slope looks gentle and easy in the photo, I assure you it is not! Yesterday I climbed up ten times. Sometimes I come down backwards for balance and to save my knees. Sometimes I practice the zig-zag path that minimizes the jolting on the joints. The day before I loaded a back-pack and walked around the huge park close to my house. After all, one has to practice carrying weight too.
I have set my foot on the path again. I did it with that reservation for a bed at the first stop on the climb over the Pyrenees Mountains that is one of the traditional pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Part of my discipline will be writing this blog too. I invite you to accompany me on my preparation to walk along one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in Europe.