Given my extensive knowledge of the Spanish language, I assume that adding -ito to the word Camino conveys the nature of my effort to tackle portions of the Camino de Santiago in two short trips. If not, I doubt any of the poor bastards who tried to teach me Spanish will be surprised by my failure.
My first stage starts tomorrow, with a train ride (my first, outside of airport shuttles, since age 5) from Bordeaux to the traditional starting point of the Camino Frances, a small town called St. Jean Pied de Port, on the French side of the border. From there, I will spend the next seven days trekking across paths, mountains, asphalt and cities to end up in Logroño, Spain if all goes well. In all, a total of just under 100 miles for this first stage, which will be interrupted by a stay in a cabin in Cantabria.
I’m apprehensive. And excited. And scared. And exhilirated. And just about everything else. I’m not sure if I am ready for the physical challenge, and I’m not sure I’m ready for the challenge of the very close, communal quarters of Camino living. I think if someone designed a challenge for a middle-aged creature of relative comfort who has a pretty serious streak of introversion, this would be it.
Tonight, I am trying to figure out what I can take in my pack and what I can (and must) leave behind. Everything I cannot take with me was nothing more than something that made the first stages of my journey more comfortable; what remains are the essentials of a successful journey. As I struggle to get the weight of my pack down to the leanest set of goods possible, it’s easy to see that the most important thing I need to leave behind here in lovely Bordeaux are my fears, not the sensible fears about wild dogs and getting lost in the Spanish countryside, nor even my fears about my physical limitations on the hike, but the most important, heaviest fears: the fact that I don’t know what’s going to happen and that I don’t have complete control over what is about to follow.
What I do have control over is simple: the size of my pack, and measure of my pace as I put one foot ahead of the next. To imagine we ever really have much more control over our lives than that might just be an illusion anyway.
Interesting how the motif of weight keeps working its way in these posts, isn’t it? 🙂