Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Saying

9:07 PM, Same Cafeteria

I have heard a popular saying about the Camino: The first third (to Burgos) is hard on your body; the second third (the Meseta, from Burgos to Leon) is hard on your mind; the final third (from Leon to Santiago) is hard on both.

I propose to revise this saying to reflect my own experiences: The first third is hard on your body; the second third is hard on your mind; and the final third is hard on your heart.

The first third is hard on your body. I don’t think I need to explain why to anyone who has been following what one reader referred to as my “blisterblog.” Frankentoe speaks for himself, and the pain that I felt in my feet was like none other. In fact, even at the time of this writing, my feet still look as though they lost a fight to a food processor. But by Burgos, they felt good enough for my feet to be able to carry me normally into the Meseta.

The second third is hard on your mind. With kilometers and kilometers of flat plains surrounding you for as far as your eyes can see, you have the blood-curdling realization that you are alone with your thoughts. Knowing that you have 4 hours with nothing to be a stimulus to your mind except your own wandering thoughts, you are forced to accept the way in which your mind wants to move you. You are forced to explore your thoughts, explore why you think the way you do, revisit important events from your past and explore why your response was what it was, but most importantly of all—to me at least—you are forced to think about who each of these characters in your life really is and how that relationship can and should change.

The final third, however, is hard on your heart. The final third is the merger between the past and the future; this is the bridge portion in which what I learned on the Camino gets transferred to how my life operates. I now know that I will need to have some tough conversations with some people in my life, some for the better, some for the worse. I know that I will need to say goodbye to the Camino, to the friends I have met, and to this wonderful struggle which has consumed the past month. This is tough, and my heart grows heavy with the responsibility.

However, I am prepared, for I have become stronger in body, mind, and heart on the Camino.

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