If you’re paying attention, you have not heard from me in a while. After Cris got horribly ill, and then recovered, I caught the same bug. That put me out for a couple days. Then there was a series of events/delays that could fill several of these little posts. We are finally back to full health and back to taking one step after another, one little town after another. That brings me to today’s theme: pace yourself. Or rather, go your own pace.
Along the Camino, there are numerous messages left by pilgrims for other pilgrims, and a surprising number of them speak to you just when you need it. This was one that I passed yesterday:
This is one of the things that the Camino teaches you: you must go your own pace. If you don’t, you get blisters, tendinitis, and sore all over. On top of that, you don’t get whatever it was you came here looking for.
Up until a couple days ago (in Leon, if you’re keeping track), Cris and I were trying very hard to do this Camino together. But that meant that I was going slower than my pace and she was pushing herself. And we both felt the pressure of having the other person to accomodate, even though neither of us was making any noise about it. Meanwhile, we were watching hundreds and then thousands of other pilgrims walk the Camino in each of their own unique ways. We had both developed an unexpressed frustration with the way it was going, and it became clear that we needed to shake it up.
Thus, after 26 days and about 480 kilometers of doing this together, Cris and I decided we would each just go our own speed. After all, the good speed is your speed. There is no exception.
About a week ago, a delightful Swedish man and I were having a drink after a long day, and he said, “the Camino is like a life in itself.” Well, that theme was rephrased today when I walked with a middle-aged woman for a few minutes. She had seen Cris and me together at a pior point and asked where Cris was. I explained our decision to go differents speeds, and maybe my voice betrayed some insecurity at the prospect of telling her that I had left my wife behind.
She immediately congratulated me. Then she said, “On the camino, you walk your speed, and other people go their speed, and yet you keep running into each other. It’s really wonderful how that works. And that’s how it has to be in a marriage too.” It turns out that she had suggested the Camino to her husband, who rejected it on the spot but encouraged her to do it alone. And now there she was perfectly happy to be walking across Spain having her own adventure.
Cris and I will have our own adventures for the final 300 kilometers, and it is clear that this is the way the Camino must be. My goal is to arrive by May 11. Cris will arrive on May 18. In the interim, I will take a side trip to see our German friends from an earlier stage on the Camino. When Cris arrives in Santiago, I will be there waiting for her with a bottle of the best local wine to congratulate her.
As I was walking alone today, it occurred to me that the lesson is quite clear. At some point you just have to forgive yourself for being yourself and get on with life. It’s that basic, and that’s one of the ways the Camino wraps an entire life into a 5- (or 6-) week journey.
And now, some pictures: