It was one day after the one year mark of losing him.
I was on a plane to Spain.
One backpack in tow. Two sets of clothes. Euros. Some photos. My feet.
225 miles to hike on unknown terrain that had no map, but seashells in the ground as markers or random arrows painted on tree trunks.
But before that flight and the pilgrimage, came the preparation.
Let’s just say that I was not a hiker.
Let’s just say that going to REI was like walking into a baby nursery…I had no clue what the heck I was doing.
Used the knowledge of those that knew a bit more about backpacks, hiking boots and the best underwear to wash in a sink.
When packing, I tried to keep it to the minimum of all needed. Heck, I even was smart enough to not pack a warm jacket (said no one EVER).
From what I had read from past pilgrims, you’d end up with a lighter load by the time you’d reach Santiago (the destination).
It was the journey of a lifetime. A journey that kept me from any distractions (which had a way of being an escape from my harsh reality), and put me smack dab in a room with my thoughts and emotions as I hiked in silence 12 hours a day.
I had no preconceived notions on what the journey would consist of or do for my soul, and that ended up being my most valuable tool to carrying the load on my back and in my heart.
I came across those on the camino that came into it with different expectations.
They wanted to be healed. Cured.
They wanted it so bad that each hope for it all to disappear. was like throwing a rock into one’s pack.
It weighed them down.
Broke them down.
Until arriving to a place of anger and resentment for the journey that they expected to take their load off of them.
Never realizing that it was our duty to adjust our pack as nature and heart told us it was time or where to go.
The camino changed my life.
It changed my perspective on how to live in the now.
To know that everything you need will come at the right moment for your heart (not when your mind tells you it needs it).
By the end of my 20 days in Spain, the other pilgrims were correct.
I had less in my backpack.
I had dumped the unnecessary to see the true essentials, and without even realizing it, done the same for my soul.
We’ll all take many journeys in our time and it’s our duty to create a load that we have unwavering faith that we can carry…because we can…we will…we just need not anticipate what that load will bring us.
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”-Lena Horne