Dorothee’s Way to Find Herself
Today will I read one sentence in a book about a german woman walking the three big trails in the USA which nearly made me crying:
“I did the PCT, all alone with all the obstacles – of what do I have to be afraid now? What could ever stop me? The way made me strong.”
This feeling is exactly the same feeling I had after doing the Camino this summertime. The first days when I was back home I was really sad and started crying quickly, sometimes without a visible reason. I told this to an Italian friend I made on the Camino and she said:
“Don’t cry – the Camino made us stronger, not weaker.”
And I thought: Yes, that’s true. And this simple truth made my life so much more unstressed and fulfilled, even today.
Strong – it’s a word with different meanings. Sure my body got stronger and more and more sustained with all the muscles. After some days my body got used to the trials so that I could walk more kilometers a day, I got used to the pressure on the feet, to the weight of my backpack, to the heat in Spain, to the pain everywhere. But I’m sure that strong means more than that, it’s even more mental: I did it.
I walked nearly 900 kilometers in 33 days.
I started alone but I met a lot of people everyday who I can call my friends or my Camino-Family now. I stopped thinking, I got absolutely empty and than as full as I have never been before.
I stopped worrying about things I don’t have to worry about, because I got everything I needed on the Camino and nothing was important except having enough to eat and to drink, finding a place to stay for the night, being healthy and without too much pain, maybe not having too much rain.
Everything else is not important, it’s an excess of life and joy which enriches your life and what can get important for you. But you don’t have to worry about it. Unfortunately I got now used again to all my stuff and normal life faster than I wanted to be…
I said I stopped thinking. I could have walked 37 kms all the day long alone. And in the evening when somebody could have asked me what I was thinking about I could have said:
When your body is moving, your mind is moving too. Maybe I was thinking about something but I didn’t realized it and I wasn’t concentrated on my thoughts.
The first days I thought that I have to think about a lot of things and to make decisions and all that stuff. But then I just stopped thinking and my thoughts came and flew away and came again and flew away again.
And I get that used to this emptiness in my brain that I even didn’t have to walk anymore to get this status. I remember the last albergue before we arrived at Cap Finisterre. I sat outside the bar which was like in the middle of nowhere, and I just was there, present. I didn’t talk to anybody, I didn’t write in my diary, I didn’t have the desire to read something or to listen to music, it wasn’t boring not at all
– I was sitting there absolutely happy and fulfilled.
I tried to keep this feeling when I was back home, but it was not possible.
Happiness is also a word I link with the Camino. Maybe it’s the simple way of life that makes you happy. I remember Callum, one of my Camino friends, saying after the first hours of walking early in the morning:
“I just need a coffee now and everything would be perfect. I’m a simple man.”
We laughed a lot about this expression but it’s a big truth.
Tiny things which are normal in my daily life suddenly got great. A good coffee after 12 kms, to sit somewhere after a long while walking, a double room in an albergue, smiling people in the villages we passed through, a simple boccadillo when you’re hungry, a hair dryer after a rainy day…
In several situations I was that happy that I couldn’t stand it any longer. And then, when I felt this happiness, I really really felt thankful. This was a real present for me of the Camino and a unforgettable spiritual experience for me.
And then my friends. All the people around me. Before I started I didn’t know how it will be to walk the Camino by myself. I was sure that I will meet a lot of people.
But I was afraid of meeting such a lot of people, to talk about the same things thousands of times (Who are you? Where are you from? What are you doing? Why are you doing the Camino? Where did you start today?…), to be open for everybody all the time for not to be alone.
It’s easy to make friends on the Camino. On my second day I met most of the people.
I now call my Camino-Family. For the rest of the way we were together. Not all the time. Not everybody ‘till the end.
But normally we stayed in the same albergues, we met on the way, we walked together or seperated,
we cooked together, we drunk together, we helped each other if there were problems or pain.
We were a Family, even if we split of after some weeks, when Callum and I decided to go together to Cap Finisterre as fast as possible.
There were other people too who are still important for me.
A big group of Italians, everybody started alone but on the same day as me. It took more than two weeks to get really in contact, but we saw us nearly everyday on the Camino, because they were as fast as us. Because we stayed half a day in Leon we thought that we have lost them.
One week later we were sitting in a café to have our breakfast, when suddenly two of them passed by. We were so happy to see them again – the whole group was around us, sometimes only 5 or 8 kms in front of us but it took one week to meet again.
Callum and I arrived together with the Italians in Santiago and had a great evening with them there. After saying goodbye in Santiago Callum and I kept on walking to Cap Finisterre and – surprise – we met them again there. We shared this emotional experiences, that’s why they are linked to my Camino-remembrances and ever will be.
Certainly on the Camino you permanently have to get involved with people and to say goodbye to people.
On my second day I met a really sympatethic Australian woman.
I catched up with her and we started to talk to each other. We walked maybe half an hour together, then I left her because I wanted to go faster (or she wanted to go slower). I remember her face as if I have seen her yesterday – but from my second day on I never saw her again. I don’t know if she could do all the Camino, if she had to break off, if she stayed alone or if she met somebody. But I remember her and the moment we shared.
The last days on the Camino we talked a lot about the question if we could imagine to do the Camino again.
Our answer was: No.
Maybe in ten years, maybe another one, but no, we can’t imagine now.
Some days after I returned back home, I could have started again…