On the eve of flying to Europe to walk my second Camino de Santiago, a five-hundred-fifty-mile trek across northern Spain, a friend asked why am I walking this a second time. And that is a difficult question.
First of all, we are taking a different route. This time we follow the coast, rather than cut inland. Next, unlike so many religious pilgrims, I am not walking to find God. To find God you must look inward, not outward. I am not walking to attain Enlightenment or any other spiritual state of being. I am not walking to get or become anything. I’ve spent a lifetime becoming. I’m done with becoming. If anything, I would like to unbecome.
I am walking the Camino to experience it—to see that area of Spain up close and personal, to mingle with the locals and the other pilgrims, to eat the food and drink the wine, to work through the blisters and the backaches, and to do all that while sharing the experience with Herman.
Will it make us stronger? I can’t say. That is not my goal, so it is unimportant. Will it bring us closer together? That is also not my goal, and therefore unimportant. My goal is simply to do it. To live it day by day, step by step, meal by meal. Herman and I will share this adventure, and hopefully we’ll be thankful each step along the path.
While thinking about the why, I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages in literature:
The very posture of searching, the slow movement with head down, seems to draw people.
“What did you lose?” they ask.
“Then what do you search for?”
And that is an embarrassing question.
We search for something that will seem like truth to us; we search for understanding; we search for that principle that keys us deeply into the patterns of all life; we search for the relation of things
one to another. . . .”
– John Steinbeck, Sea of Cortez