Last evening, Jeff and I had the pleasure of having dinner with two lovely people we met because of this blog. Americans, Linda and Brad have been walking the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo for the past few weeks, and they reached out as they neared Melide.
These past six months have been wonderful. Amazing people have been put in our path. And Linda and Brad are now two of our favorites. What positive souls. As we walked up to the restaurant, their smiles lit the place up. Of course, they knew all about Jeff’s tractor adventures, and he was happy to hear he had Brad’s full support as he makes more equipment purchases. ‘I like that guy.’ Jeff said, as we drove home. ‘He gets me.’
Our conversation over dinner took the usual twists and turns you would expect. In many ways, they know us – like all readers of this blog – but we wanted to get to know them. One evening is not enough to cover the very interesting lives of these two. And, of course, eventually we turned towards the Camino. The Primitvo is not a walk in the park. Its been a rough go. And they had walked before on the Frances from St Jean two years ago, before the pandemic.
I love talking with Peregrinos about the lessons of their Camino. Many are unexpected. The discussion turned to our packs, as Linda handed over her sleeping bag. She was looking to shed more weight for the remainder of their trip. It’s a nice bag and I happily accepted it. But she said something profound as we laughed at how much each of us brought along starting our first Caminos. And how little we had when we walked into Santiago.
‘We pack our fears.’ Linda wisely observed. ‘All our ‘what ifs’ and ‘just in cases.’ It’s all based on fear.’
She is so right. And those fears cost us dearly when we are starting out on a long journey. Right when we are least capable. Our bodies are not yet adjusted to the pack. Our legs are not yet as strong as they will become. Our knees are unused to the extra weight. So, it’s ironic that at that very moment is when we decide to pile it all on. Our emotional fears are actually causing us physical pain.
The pack as a metaphor for fear is an interesting one. I know I do this in other areas of my life. At times when I trip over my own feet. When I let my uncertainty get the better of me and I react by running thru the ‘what ifs’ or the ‘might happens’ and I begin to try to hedge my bets. Invariably adding more overhead and more weight to my proverbial pack.
In my previous career of developing software and business solutions, we always tried to remember the KISS rule. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Every time we would design some overly complicated solution, someone on the team would invariably say ‘KISS’. That’s all it took. It was then we realized we were wrapped around the axel. We needed to take a step back and unwind it. Usually, the simplest solution was the best one. Coding for every edge case is a fools errand. Funny, I didn’t remember this when I was packing for my Camino.
Today, I’ve thought a lot about Linda’s comment last night. So much of what Jeff and I are doing right now we have never done. Creating this new life from scratch. It is exciting and unnerving, all at once. There are times I wonder if we are crazy. And I am tempted to slow down, or contract. Knowing I’m not seeing the forest for the trees. But then I think of the pack metaphor and I remember what I learned walking for more than a month straight carrying it all on my back. It isn’t about what we cling to. Its about what we let go of that defines us. Being left with just the essentials.
We are blessed to have people like Linda and Brad cross our path. Their enthusiasm for what we are doing has buoyed me. Sometimes its nice to see your life through other people’s eyes. Hear their cheers as you are swimming in the deep end. ‘You’re living the dream!’ Brad told us, enthusiastically. And I realize he is right. We are. It took dinner last night with these two Peregrinos to help me to remember to take a breath and step back, and to let some of those ‘what if’ fears go. Thanks to Linda and Brad, my pack is that much lighter today.