A few years ago I saw the movie Adventureland, a forgettable teen rom-com, that nevertheless stuck with me. I left the theater in tears. For me, the movie perfectly captured the bliss of youthful freedom, those amazing high school summers when I had no responsibility and the world was my oyster. I mourned the loss of my youth that day, realizing that I would never again experience that same freedom and fun, first kisses and fast friendships.
I walked the last 90 kilometers (56 miles) of the Camino to Finisterre in two days. I felt strong and full of energy, and the miles just flew by.
My first glimpse of the ocean from a rise in the trail is a moment I will never forget. A I gazed out at the water, tears began streaming down my face: tears of joy at the realization that what I felt on the Camino was as close as I could remember to that lost feeling of youthful freedom and tears of sadness that this experience was coming to an end.
Yet, I also know that my time on the Camino was far more powerful than anything I could have experienced in my bygone youth. With age, comes wisdom, strength, and a sense of self that we nuture over time. My walk was nothing short of transformational, in large part because I experienced it at this time and this place in my life. I connected with myself in a way that I never have before, relishing time alone with my own thoughts, my own wonderful self. And I connected with other people in a way that I never have before, meaningfully but in such a short time.
The generosity of spirit, thought, time and kindness shown by the incredible people I met along the way, for others they barely knew, is unparalleled in my life. I will forever cherish my time with each and every one of them, whether it was just for a meal or for days spent walking, talking, and laughing.
Several days into my walk I told Alex that I didn’t understand why people walk the Camino over and over again. Now I do. What I experienced on the Camino is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else in the world. The friendship, community, support, and selflessness of fellow pilgrims just doesn’t reveal itself in everyday life like it does on the Camino. I am going to miss it dearly.
Now the work begins to figure out how to manifest the transformation I feel, to maintain this feeling of joy and my connection to myself and others in the “real world.” I guess the journey isn’t really over.