JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF MY TRUTH – EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO 2009
Day 2923, 23 May 2017, Copperas Cove, Texas, USA
An Introduction: Journey to the Heart of my Truth – El Camino de Santiago 2009 (The Misadventures of a Reluctant WayShow•er)
EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO 2009 – MY CAMINO
Today, I look back and commit myself to the arduous task of making literary sense of the single most important journey of my life, El Camino de Santiago 2009. It was eight years ago today that I awoke in San Jean Pied-de-Port (literally, “Saint John, at the Foot of the Pass”). I felt a strange mix of uneasiness, confidence, joy, and fear swirling around inside me that day, and those feelings are still present today. I remember feeling prepared and ready for the journey — maybe not as well as some, but certainly better than most. However, I soon learned that all my planning and organizing could never prepare me for the real journey (physical, mental, emotional & spiritual) at hand, and I’m certainly glad my demons and shadow-monkeys remained on quiet siesta until I passed my personal point-of-no-return.
I had been thinking about this trip for years, maybe 5, 10 or even more. The vision came to me slowly as inspiration trickled in from various places, people, and conversations I can’t even begin to remember. Authors like Paulo Coelho and Shirley MacLaine certainly inspired me, but their words came to me more like a reminder of something I already knew than as a single moment of inspiration. As I learned more about El Camino de Santiago (literally, “The Road of Saint James” in Spanish, AKA The Way or Path of Saint James), it always felt like more of a remembering (of something I already knew) than as pure discovery (or a surprise). I remember feeling a desire to take this pilgrimage, and never understanding how that might be possible. I planed some, then abandoned that, bought bits of essential equipment here-and- there, lost some, and always seemed to return to my regularly scheduled life (already in progress). The idea kept swimming around the darker recesses of my mind, surfacing at odd moments to tickle my fancy, and submerging again almost as quickly as it came.
Thinking back on 23 May 2009 (Day 1) of my pilgrimage, now 8 years later, transports me there in an instant. I often find my concept of space-time collapsing around me with the same anxious feelings as that morning in San Jean Pied-de-Port. I can rescue myself by relaxing my mind, engaging friends or a new project (to focus my thoughts), and grounding myself in the present (by celebrating the present moment). Those 8 years, the 8 years that passed in a flash, equals 2922 days, 70,128 hours, 4,207,680 minutes or 252,460,800 seconds of a life, for the most part, still lost on a journey to end all journeys. However, I still don’t feel I’ll ever find an end that satisfies, and I’m sure I’ll always be searching for the me that truly matters (to me).
Wow, that says a lot. That certainly explains why I’ve traveled so far, and still find myself here in this moment trying to make sense of my life, my path, and my journey. That also explains a bit about why I might seek to understand my journey well enough to try and explain it to you.
This journey is commonly called, El Camino de Santiago, and has been known, and traveled for centuries. There are many roads to Santiago, but this specific path, and this story were the ones I chose as mine. This road is also known as the Camino Francés (literally, “French Road or Path or Way”) because it starts in France.
While planning, I searched for any source that would reveal something (anything) about the day-to-day, hour-to-hour, moment-to-moment reality of life on El Camino. I didn’t find much and what I did find was sorely inadequate to satisfy my active imagination. My quest for details was never satisfied until I found myself actually walking My Camino. My questions became the foundation of my journal entries, and the inspiration for this blog.
This is my story, and it’s about the journey that I hoped would take me to the end of my world, and maybe even beyond. Practically speaking, it took me 550 miles (880 km) from San Jean Pied-de-Port in France, at the foot of the infamous Pyrenees Mountains, across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela (literally “Saint James, under the Field of Stars” or maybe “Saint James’ Burial Ground,” both suggested by colloquial Latin). From there, my journey continued and took me to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean at the City of Finisterre. Both names, Finisterre (in Spanish) and Fisterra (in the local Galician), literally mean End of Land, End of Earth or End of the World (pick one you like). Not everyone continues on to Finisterre, but somewhere deep inside I always knew that Finisterre was the true destination of My Camino.
JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF MY TRUTH
Who would ever conceive of a Journey to the Heart of my Truth? Me, I guess.
I know lots of people seeking the truth or at least their truth. Is it possible to actually find the truth (any truth), and then look deep down inside that truth to find (and understand) the essence at its heart? I thought of calling this, “Journey to the Truth of my Heart,” but that never felt quite right.
El Camino de Santiago continues to be a metaphor for my life, and another incarnation of that ultimate path or journey: where we all seek our own self-discovery, and self-awareness. It is on El Camino that I was first attracted to the thought of living a spirit-led path, and dedicating myself to a life of service to my greater good (and THE greater good). Years earlier, I had dedicated myself to a life of service to the greater good of the planet, and everyone, and everything on it. Of course, in my youth, I first focused on my lover, my friends, my family, and all the animate (and inanimate) objects that share this world with us.
It wasn’t until El Camino that I began to see that I couldn’t really serve anyone or dedicate myself to anything until I found a true, and authentic way to dedicate myself to the heart of MY truth, and the truth of MY heart. My lover, my friends, my family, and the world of animate (and inanimate) objects could never truly experience my love until I filled myself with enough self-love that it overflowed me. Only then, with that excess love, could I offer a love that they could genuinely receive, value, and cherish.
This is a path open to all possibilities, and committed to none except the enlightenment of my truth. I have spent the past eight years learning to feel the truth, see it, follow it, and be fully present to it as it changes, adjusts, shifts, transforms, and morphs at the speed of light. This is the truth that defines me, fills me, and swirls around me.
Really, it’s all been about learning to feel the truth in the moment, and remain as free as possible from attachment, expectation or dependence on it. This has been my life, and this is my story. This is the Journey to the Heart of my Truth.
¡Buen Camino y Ultreïa!,
Note: I watch myself as I write about My Camino, and feel forced to admit that I am, indeed, the author of these words. However, I also must acknowledge that I feel more like a conduit than the source, and I’m infinitely more comfortable being a messenger or guide than any sort of leader.
We are all fellow pilgrims, each on their own uniquely individual path. In my opinion, all paths are spiritual paths of one sort or another. Sometimes our paths cross, sometimes our paths come close and remain parallel for a short while (at school or work, in life, or on El Camino de Santiago), and sometimes our paths never meet. I honor your path, and celebrate the opportunity to share a few moments of fellowship if our paths should ever converge or cross.
Please remember, there are no wrong paths and a misstep is really an oxymoron. No one is ever truly lost until they lose connection to their higher-self, forsake their unique path, or mute their own special self-expression. What we call, Being Lost, is merely the manifestation (by our higher-self) of an unplanned and unexpected experience. Maybe we should learn to stop criticizing ourselves, look for the gift, and celebrate the adventure as it unfolds.
So, I reluctantly share the details of my experiences on El Camino in hopes that you do not copy my convoluted and highly irregular path, but instead use my words as inspiration to seek out and follow your own uniquely individual path (no matter where it may lead you or how convoluted, circuitous or irregular it may seem). I can show you My Way, and share my wisdom from that path, but I could NEVER show you The Way or Your Way.
I am the Reluctant WayShow•er, and this is the story of my Misadventures…