It is a pilgrimage that I plan to take in exactly 1 month from today. A trip of 500 miles across the north of Spain. The Way is known as the Camino de Santiago. It is a walk that will take me around 30 days. There are no rules about how far I must walk every day or at what pace I must go. The trail is well marked and will be directing me to my physical destination. It is also well supported as more than 300,000 people do this annually. So I will take each day as it comes. The only thing I have planned is my flight there and when I need to be back home.
It is a personal journey about finding myself. Time to reflect about my life.
You see, as adventurous as my life my may seem from an outsiders perspective based on my Facebook feed, that doesn’t mean it is my day to day reality. I truly am happy in the “big picture” but I have some things to work out. The truth is, I struggle. I am angry at the world and more importantly myself. I need to find a way to channel these emotions productively. I had a rough childhood and many life disappointments. We all have right? The biggest disappointments, are of my own doings. Somehow, I need to let go.
I set high expectations for myself and sometimes they are exhausting to live up to. Yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just one example is…. I am dealing with an aging parent and I find myself lost at what to do. I go home next week to assess knowing it will shatter me inside. My dad has Parkinsons and needs my support. However, I live halfway across the world in Italy. I don’t want to move home and honestly that makes me feel like an incredibly selfish person. It is much more complex. My parents divorced not that long ago and I am sure he feels alone and afraid. I justify myself by telling myself I offered to move him here with me and he declined. I also justify myself because he is my step father who came into my world at a young age and I feel he abandoned me the day he let me go into foster care. However, that was something I have worked my life at forgiving him (and others) and I feel a deep pull to take care of him and make sure his time left is quality.
The question remains is how? How do I do it without giving up things I have worked towards and want? I have been working years on my doctorate and I just applied for a full time professor. This has been the goal Matty and I have been working on together and I am not ready to give it up. It is a war inside of me and I don’t have the solution.
The battle doesn’t end there….I was angry as a child and when I became an adult, the only way I knew how to handle this was through channeling that energy into striving for success and happiness in life. To prove everyone wrong about who they thought I would be and I did. However, Sean’s suicide threw ALL of that out of the window because success to societies standard no longer meant happiness for me. So it was back to the anger and disappointment and grief. No matter what you have been through in life, some things just slap you straight back to the start line. Every day I find a piece of the old me and I am slowly repairing and fixing trying to mend myself into something I can be proud of and to stop caring what other people think. It is a battle and an upward climb all at once. There are times that I have huge setbacks that cause me to pick up even more broken pieces of myself. Even though it has been slow and I am angry at myself for the recovery, I find that I am building something even more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed. You see, picking up the pieces gives me a chance to see something new, something different that I didn’t see before and constructing myself with new parts that I never knew existed till I explored what the world had to offer me. So this journey is a part of picking up the old pieces and finding the new and building something better.
Without a place to stay or a even any kind of plan in place doubt creeps in and I wonder can I do it? Will I even finish? Should I go at this alone or find someone to join? Should I plan better? I know no matter my doubt, no matter the pain, if I get lost or get a blister, this is a journey that is calling me. Whatever happens, happens and I will deal. My life has never gone as planned and I have embraced the world of the unknown.
In thinking now, I have planned some…..I did buy a backpack and some items to take such as shampoo bar (yes, like soap) and body/foot glide. I have read books about other people’s journey. I have even watched movies. I will have 2-3 outfits, some walking shoes, and flip flops. I have learned in life (and read on numerous websites about the trip) that less is more. I find that low count of material possessions liberates my heart and mind to focus my energy on my thoughts and feelings which is something I REALLY need to do.
So here are some of my whys:
To start the day, not knowing where it will take me.
For the journey.
For the adventure.
To find myself.
and maybe….to lose myself.
To meet other people of all ages/nationalities/backgrounds.
To be immersed into history and a culture.
To get physically fit.
Emotions- For the laughs… and the tears.
To experience kindness from strangers.
To be the kindness of a stranger.
To feel alive.
To live another life, even if it is just for a while.
For the stories.
To be selfish.
Because people & love.
Here is what I have so far…… minus my laptop that I have to take so that I can continue to write my dissertation and graduate as planned. I also hope to use it to send out updates on my journey.
So please stay tuned…..
For another perspective on The Way, you can watch the trailer below.