Mark Seidler has the bug. He’s got it bad.
The Camino bug.
He hasn’t been able to shake it. So he’s walking in July. His first time. I suspect, like others who have been similarly afflicted, that it won’t be his only time.
He’s already bought his boots, and sleeping bag. Next on his list is his backpack. (Osprey Kestrel, 38ltr, I suggested…)
He contacted me not long ago. He’d read my book. He was very kind.
We swapped a few emails and he seemed to have a way with words, so I thought it might be interesting to get his perspective for this blog – principally tackling the hoary question: Why are you doing this?
So here’s his post. And I welcome him to this blog…
So, why the Camino? It is, after all, a reasonable question. And the one probably most asked when one mentions that he or she is planning on hiking it.
We are all reasonable adults, after all, have our feet planted fairly solidly on the ground. And yet, we plan on walking 800 kilometers across northern Spain for reasons which are not at all clear. At least, in my case.
It is more than just planning to go. In some very real sense, I need to do it. Like so many before me, something about it beckons and try as I might, the feeling won’t go away.
At sixty four, I have lived a wonderful life. Seven years ago, I made this enormous leap after twenty years in the corporate world, and opened, of all things, a restaurant.
It was a gutsy thing to do, scary as all get out, especially so since I had no prior restaurant experience. It was the craziest thing I have ever done, yet with the exception of having my kids, the best. It moved my entire center of gravity, from my head, where it had always resided, to my arms and my chest and my hands.
Though excruciatingly difficult at times, it set me on a course from which I have never looked back.
What I know is that since that day, I have been on a path of internal growth. It is a miracle that I have been courageous enough, lucky enough, to have pulled it off, this new life of mine.
I live now a very happy life for all intents and purposes. It isn’t extravagant by any stretch, but I have figured out a way to make do with less, have gotten my priorities in line with what is important to me, and gotten rid of a whole lot of baggage, both material and emotional.
There have been lapses to be sure. I lapse all of the time. Yet, I have finally finally finally begun to be in charge of the path that my life takes. It is a wonderful feeling, both liberating and exhilarating.
Which brings me full circle to the Camino. Despite my newfound growth, there are so many things I don’t know about still, so many ways that I need to grow.
What has the Camino in store for me? I am not quite sure. What I feel, what I crave, is the opportunity to assess, in beauty and in solitude and on a well worn path, what has gone right in my life as well as what has not.
And most importantly, what lies ahead.
I am not a religious person. I’ve spent the better part of a year now trying to figure out what this life is about; that sort of thing happens when one begins to come to grips with one’s mortality. How did I get here? Where am I going once it is done?
I have turned to reading rather voraciously subjects like cosmology and physics – looking into quantum mechanics in one direction for an inkling about the meaning of life, and the very edge of our expanding universe, some eight billion light years away, in the other.
I don’t expect to find God on the Camino. But I do know that there is a whole heck of a lot of room for looking at life from other vantage points.
There is a wonderful quote from Rumi which says, “Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart.”
And there are a lot of unseens out there.
The Camino beckons…