Walking a Camino is all about honesty. No matter what you think it will be when you begin, it will be something else at the end. You will not be the same person when you arrive to Santiago. Guaranteed. Mentally or physically.
You can not hide from yourself when you walk for six weeks straight for six hours a day through rain, sleet, snow and heat. If you have anger issues, the mud won’t help that. Just sayin’. But it’s not all about processing what we typically categorize as negative emotions. Often it’s completely the opposite.
I have been walking for the past two days with some Camino friends. We walked into a village and they were staying at the first Pension. We arrived late after a brutal day that produced many blisters on a sea of rocks dotting the path. I twisted my ankle more times than I can count. Thank God for high boots instead of trail runners. We barely spoke the entire day, we were so concentrated on where to place our feet. Rain has been our constant companion for two days. So the warm Albergue was a welcome sight.
Everything was closed at four pm. No self respecting Spanish cafe is serving food at that time. But the Albergue owner received us all, happily. He asked if we had eaten anything all day and when we said No, he told us all to sit. Then he locked the door to the cafe and whipped us up a meal fit for a king. And then the comedy show started.
Two hours of non-stop hilarity later, it was then that I realized I have not laughed that hard in so long. I have forgotten what the sound of my own belly laugh sounds like. I was crying.
Finally, it was time to head to my own pension down the way. I wasn’t sure where it was and was mocked mercilessly for using Google maps in a one horse-town. The Albergue owner offered to walk me there.
‘You are very funny.’ He told me on our short walk.
I laughed. ‘You should do stand up. Honestly. Add Comedy Club to your sign.’
‘You can come back here any time, you know. You don’t live very far away. I have a house.’
It was then it struck me. ‘Wait. Are you hitting on me?’ I asked. A little incredulous. I haven’t felt hit-on-able in a very, very long time. I barely recognized it for what it was.
He smiled. ‘Of course.’
I declined politely, then thanked him for walking me to my pension.
Yesterday reminded me that its ok to let my guard down to a certain extent. Sadness and grief aren’t the only emotions that I need to let fly. The door to joy and laughter needs to be left unlocked, and cracked open, as well. And, at 55, maybe I’m not too far over that hill, quite yet. 😉