IN CONTINUATION FROM: TALES FROM THE WALK BEHIND ME, NO.4 – THE LEAN, MEAN, AND HIGHLY EMOTIONAL MACHINE.
Good evening/morning/night whatever — I’m not always sure how to start these things.
It’s funny how we are “trained” to formally present our thoughts in structured essay format. Sure, I guess it helps to be literate, but when is enough enough in order to effectively deal with the grey and unnorganized chaos in the world that is wholefuly represented with the poignance of a grammatically incorrect sentence?
Perhaps a little too extreme of a point to start off with alongside the irrelevancy of this point with the context of the post ahead…
Let’s move on!
The following is Number 5 of 14 in the series of blog posts called “Tales From The Walk Behind Me”.
If you missed part one, here it is — Click Me!
If you’re new to these, it is a series of originally journaled entries through a few of my days —events, experiences, thoughts— along the Camino De Santiago.
This is my standard cut and paste disclaimer from the tale before, I will give you the bit of warning because it might not be what you expect– my thoughts can be ugly because I’m a weirdo.
Furthermore, the content will vary, and the timelines will be all over the place because my mind loves a wild goose chase.
You also may question my own benevolence as a human being.
There is a strong warrior in all of us! Here is no. 5…
EN ROUTE CAMINO NORTE – aviles, asturias. SPAIN.
monday September 16, 2019.
Well today was good — but a motherfucker of a day.
It’s so funny when you first start a task how daunting the road ahead looks to you.
Daunting, to look at all the scattered pieces in the journey and where you stand at the front of your doorstep with an endless amount of miles left to walk.
How do you proceed?
Greatness is easy when you’re feeling great, but understand that you will have setbacks, hardships, turmoil, and whatever else to distract you.
It’s up to you to recognize these critical moments to keep your momentum moving, and that is where your greatness lies — buried in your weakness.
There were a lot of these thoughts that came my way today, but mostly these thoughts stem from words that were exchanged days earlier.
I spoke to a preacher man a mere few days into my Camino on the evening spent in Markina-Xemein. It was in the municipal Albergue where I met a Canadian preacher from Hinton, Alberta, Canada.
Funny enough, I had an overnight stay in Hinton when I was leading tour groups across the Canadian Rockies this past season, so he was both surprised and excited in the farmiliarity of home while being abroad.
As was I, and what is interesting to note is that you don’t realize how much you appreciate home until you leave it behind for whatever reason.
I spent most of my 20’s feeling that I needed to escape Toronto — along with my building disdain for the city. However, the more that I pushed to leave the things I disliked about it, the more room that was left to appreciate the beautiful things it has to offer.
Eventually, any hatred I had faded the more I came to understand about myself. And these days, I feel that home — Toronto — is a beautiful place to always return to for brief periods of time, and undoubtedly only to visit.
Like myself, this was also the preacher’s second Camino journey — him having walked the Camino Frances years earlier.
Our experiences along the Camino Frances were similar, in that, he had come out to start the trek and ended up bonding with a group of four fellows to which they ended up walking the entire journey at length together. They became a solid group in community and it was something he was seeking to experience again on his current journey along the Camino Norte.
As for myself, I had found comfort in a group, moreso, within a beautiful American girl named Rose. It was only a few days into the Camino Frances where we met in passing, mistaking my height and European features as anything but Canadian — “Some Dutch weirdo”, to very loosely steer her words.
Together — alongside other farmiliar faces on almost every corner — we completed the 800km trek into Santiago De Compostella. The journey was filled with many lessons and parables to draw from — lessons that have embedded themselves within me to this day.
In fact, I shared a nugget of wisdom from my mind’s philosophy to the preacher as a result of my experiences with Rose.
The talk in conversation with the preacher made its way in discussing the intentions we had as individuals in the current journey — a common question among pilgrims is to question the choice and reason to embark on the walk.
His intentions were to find community again, to take it extra slow and to take in every experience as mindfully as possible. As for myself in my journey, I found myself telling him my plan to put in long hard days with long mile walks.
But as I opened up my mind he peered at me perplexingly as if I am wrong to do so, or that my way is not the way…
If I may interject, then what way is it? — Is it your way?!
To loosley put his words he said, “Well, you got the blinders on — you’re too focused — you might miss out on something you’re meant to experience, or someone you’re supposed to meet!”
Maybe he’s right, Maybe he’s wrong.
He’s both, because his way is right for him, and it is wrong for me.
Likewise, my way is right for me, and wrong for him. The thing about our intentions and what we are meant for is solely unique for us, and we have to respect our intentions and yearnings to experience how we intend to.
With that in mind, I responded to his concerns as it pertained to missing out on experiences or people that I am destined for as so,
I said, “If I was supposed to experience something, or if I was meant to meet someone — destined to, lets say — wouldn’t whatever path I choose lead me to such person or said experience?”
I furthered with this quote I wrote down during my journey with Rose along last year’s Camino:
Don’t stop to smell the roses, the roses you are meant to smell will stop you dead in your tracks.G. Kourtesiotis, 2018.
Persuade me, persuade me not.
Our conversation wasn’t aggressive in the least, it was actually rather pleasant, but it was a reinforcement for my own enlightenment. It doesn’t matter what choices you make in your life, because your path is your path regardless.
If you want to take it slow — to flow with the intention of complete openess, to be passive to about anything and everything as it finds you — that is what will find you because that is what you are attracting and calling for experience. You are receptive to that experience based on your internal wishes to take it slow and to be very liberal to experience openess to everything — A real life Yes-Man or Yes-Woman.
Likewise, If you want to rush, in the sense to charge forward through situations with specific and intentional focus — to spearhead yourself with a singular goal in mind — be prepared to meet resistance and struggle as you navigate the fine lines of your limitations. This requires the capacity to be stubbornly different, with the capacity to say No as you are steered towards voices of comfort. The choices you make come with hard consequences because you are purposely giving up on one thing for the sake of the other.
Neither is right or wrong, because both aspects of experience exist within the human reality — We can learn from both, and we are meant to experience both in our lives as we delegate a happy medium between the two extremes.
In that we have to learn to shape up and push, to be aggressive, assertive, and direction oriented with specific intentions– funny enough, we can learn that from the other side in complete openess. Alternatively, we can also learn to be more loose, open, accomodating, and laid back by being completely dominating in our intentions to walk in an almost militrarized mindset– to loosen the reigns, so to speak.
Ultimately, it is the need to understand when we need to be more open and accomodating vs closed off, focused, or single tracked for the right reasons, and it takes a honed awareness to do so.
Fine lines to saying yes to drugs/alcohol or no to them, both for the right reasons.
Fine lines to saying yes to relationships, or no by cutting them loose, both for the right reasons.
Fine lines to keeping your job, or leaving it all behind for something more genuine, hopeful, or new, both for the right reasons.
Again, the choices we make aren’t right or wrong, they are right or wrong for us as individuals in what we envision for ourselves, and we can learn to find the middle ground between these two extremes by exploring ourselves and our experience within the extreme itself.
100% fluid 100% rigid – a learning curve
Again, my conversation with the Canadian preacher wasn’t an aggressive converesation, but a rather pleasant one. We briefly spoke about our past experiences and our current Camino intentions, while gaining further insight into the conversation through the 3 younger pilgrims at the table that he was walking with– a German fellow engaging with the girl from New Zealand, and a beautiful and intriguing Dutch girl who was previously living in Barcelona.
And though my perspective with the preacher conflicted on the proper way to walk, my thoughts resonated in kind with the Dutch girl.
I saw a little bit of myself in her with what my journey looked like along my first Camino journey just last year. Along the Frances, I was walking with a group and I was very open to take in whatever came my way and to let myself be swept away with the experience. This year along the Norte is the polar opposite to that as I actually have intentions, being to seek out my boundaries and limitations.
Just before concluding our conversation we talked about where we would be walking to the next day. I didn’t have an exact location as to where I would stop, but it would definitely be a very long day — which it was as I racked up about 42.3km from Markina Xeimen to Larrabetzu.
The plan the preacher had was to spend the evening in Ziortza-Bolibar, which was a mere 7.5km from our current place. The plan was to stay at the Monasterio de Zenarruza which was particularly unique as the albergue hosted pilgrims that was completely catered to by the monks of the monastery. They would prepare the evening meal entirely themselves alongside evening vespers/sunset prayers.
Our itinerary was indeed conflicted, likewise, the Dutch girl was in line with the preacher, despite having an empowering conversation with her about nothing other than personal empowerment — again, seeing my last year’s self in her for her choice to ecperience in complete openess.
The monastery sounded pleasant, but it gives me a superficial impression of faith and spirituality– Especially as it relates to my own belief system of the universal interconnectedness of humanity and nature.
Their way is not wrong, but I can easily overlook the experience to pursue it because I undoubtedly understand that it is wrong for me. My ritual is to walk and my faith in God —universe/energy/source/whatever you want to call it — is reinforced in nature, outside of convential structures and dogmatic formalities.
10 days, and 432.5km Later
Today was a long day as I put in 55.2km between Villaviciosa and my current place in Aviles, and I have put 432.5km into my walk over the last 10 days since my conversation with the Canadian preacher and his group. And today was a day where I found the differences in our conversations perspective clearly separate themselves.
Its been days later but this interaction burns in my brain as I am pushing myself up and down the continunous hills of the day without impedment from fatigue or talks of self doubt, or defeat — it all starts and ends in your head
“Push! More motherfucker!” I mouth to myself.
“Move your fucking ass you bitch!” I silently yell to myself.
My fists clench into a ball and I march on.
As I concur the hill, I reinforce these states of empowerment by thinking to myself:
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon” — True, there is great wisdom in that… until you met the man who sprinted the marathon.G. Kourtesiotis, September 16, 2019.
What is there to say about that? — Why not push your limits and boundaries to make yourself face great new strides in your pursuit of personal self development and greatness.
When can you relax? — Maybe when you’re dead from trying your heart and soul out into overcoming whatever challenge is in your way.