IN CONTINUATION FROM: THE MAN WHO SPRINTED THE MARATHON – TALES FROM THE WALK BEHIND ME, NO.5
another day in the 2020 paradise
Hi how are ya? — Good, You — Okay great…
**Insert Awkward Silence.**
Let’s move on!
The following is Number 6 of 14 in the series of blog posts called “Tales From The Walk Behind 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.
If you missed part one, here it is — Click Me!
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.
a word of advice, don’t offer others your unsolicited advice – sweet irony, Here is no. 6…
EN ROUTE CAMINO NORTE – soto del luina, asturias. SPAIN.
tuesday September 17, 2019.
I lost my pen, but it’s probably somewhere in my bag. Maybe I’ll find it at the end of my trip, or maybe next year — knowing how life usually plays out.
Oh how it wrote so well, and I’ve replaced it with a pen that was way too expensive for what it is — €2.40 Euro, really? I’ve had a meal as expensive as this.
Perhaps its more of an investment, then again, what is more of an investment than the food you eat? Afterall, food does buy more energy and time for yourself into your future.
I found it interesting that I was hardpressed to find a pen in a grocery store, to which I had to make a trip to the local tobacconist shop to buy one. Maybe they’ve philosophically linked smoking and penmanship in this neck of the woods.
Either way, it was just a pen for me today because I don’t smoke — anything.
In my moment, I sit here on the grass along the wall of the abergue waiting and watching the rain clouds come in from above. I sit here taking in the marvel of the earth as lightening silently breaks the sky into two, three, four, and five pieces along the approaching sky.
I sit on alone, but distantly surrounded by people I dont want to be around. And as I mull over these feelings of appreciated lonliness I wonder to myself,
who do I want to be around?
No one really. Or maybe just my family– They get me.
What am I chasing?
I felt so much of a yearning to leave and seek new ventures over the past few years. And now I find myself sitting here without any real care for a connection with others. My inclination is for solitude, or to spend time with connections that have already been established.
The only exception to this is my wishes in finding my significant other– That is the only relationship worth opening myself up for.
I’m not the type to feel homesick, but funny enough, I feel that I actually miss my childhood friends. But again, maybe it’s the already established connections that I’m feeling for.
It’s such a peculiar thing in building relationships as children. The circle of choice that we are typically exposed to is dependant on our school environment. In this sense, we didn’t really have a choice to seek friendship because we were involuntarily enrolled into school by our parents.
Connecting and friendship was almost by default.
I mean, we always have a choice on who we call our friends or not, but our pick of the litter was expansive in opportunity, with no real ground to connect to.
I am unsure if I am explaining this thoughtfully enough, but I like to think of it as primitive selection, because we don’t really know much of ourselves in elementary school — at least I didn’t. But, the bonds that we make with our childhood friends sometimes last a lifetime, simply because we grew up together.
These roots run deep, especially when we hold onto relationshops with old friends for those very reasons– despite outgrowing eachother into adulthood.
I simply have my own experiences to draw from, however, building friendships in adulthood is more or less the same, yet arguably harder to maintain. It’s different in the sense that you already have more to relate to depending on the complexity of your career. But mostly, we have the pick of the litter to draw from depending on who is being hired, and who has been hired.
We spend so much time in our workspaces, and I’ve often heard references to peers and workmates as a second family.
I am more selfish as an adult. I was easy to make friends with people in high school, in college, in sport, etc… And the bonds that I have there are mostly hard wired. But as an employee, my choices to bridge friendships are slightly skewed.
I am banterful, and energetic when it comes to my coworkers, yet I maintain a transient relationship with everyone in kind. In this sense, I keep the purpose of my work strictly professional as a means for financing, or some other form or perk/benefit for my lifestyle– There is very little room for real friendship.
Perhaps it’s the work that it takes to invest my time emotionally into others. My time is already so heavily invested into myself and my problems that my conscience almost has no room for anyone else and their personal dilemmas.
Wow An overwhelming thought. Maybe I am the workplace asshole afterall… —Nah!
Perhaps my problem is purely existential. Seemingly, I can’t get past the triviality of existence sometimes. Sure, we create our own meanings and attachments in life, but I automatically turn myself off when I can’t reason with meaning attributed by someone else.
Maybe I lack empathy, who knows… — Nah, It’s the small talk!
On the Camino, I see these other pilgrims here with boastful intentions to bond with others while incessantly straining and complaining — About what? I don’t know, and I don’t think I really care.
Most are trying to break the ice with no intended depth, but I guess that’s the point of breaking the ice in the first place — as an attempt to get through the surface.
Alternatively, it’s funny to notice that when we run out of meaningful things to really talk about, we default into some form of commonality in shallow suffering.
- It’s hot out, isnt it?
- Boy, it sure is cold!
- My shoes are killing me, how are your feet doing?
- My day was okay– apart for that damn rain. Now my underwear is wet and chafing!
I feel that I am a very grounded and practical person, but i do like to pick apart signs from the universe from time to time…
today I had three.
Three signs from the universe that were along the same lines. All three had to do with soliciting advice to others… Or in my case — unsolicited advice for me.
One sign was more intrusive than the last one, as it kept reaching a steal for my attention.
Would you like to know what I think about unsolicited advice?
I did not motherfucking ask for your fucking opinion, or for your thoughts for you to blatantly intervene an intrusion of interaction into my life.
Sign Number 1:
The first encounter was rather innocent as I was coming through a fork in the road along a moderatley busy intersection. I could see the way forward in my approach, but my pace slightly slowed to scan traffic before crossing the road.
Growing up in Toronto, you learn how to ebb and flow your way between traffic with grace and efficiency. So as I was starting my way flawless crossing through the road, a man in a car whizzing through a yield sign decided to help me out.
He maintained an intense eye contact as he thrusted his entire arm — shoulder, arm pit, and neck — out the window in order to point me into the direction of the way. More impressive, is how he maintained eye contact, and half of his body out of the window to help me as he continued along his route uninterruptedly.
Peculiar though innocent, I didn’t think too much more about it. Actually, I rather appreciated the gesture despite not needing any assistance at all.
“People want to help.” I thought to myself in a rather light way.
Sign Number 2:
The second encounter came mere moments later, where a portion of the way stretched through a busy paved section of the road. And as I continued down the short section of pavement I could see a point where the path diverged into a forested dirt path across the road.
I knew the path because I could clearly see it, the yellow painted arrows showing me the way were plentiful in all their guidance. Despite the obvious signage, and seconds before crossing into the dirt I heard a foreign voice shout at me from behind.
Now it all happened pretty quickly, but I reared my head left in time to see a moped putt to a stop next to me. He stopped for only a few seconds at best, but the verbal confusion stretched out the time.
Between the muffled putting of his moped, and the Spanish I can’t speak, I couldn’t understand his words. I did understand his message through the language of his body as he threw his right arm over his head and motioned over to the forested path on the left. Another country Spaniard giving me the old stop and point routine in an attempt to steer me into the proper direction of the Camino.
It was something I didn’t think too much about either. Despite finding it overly unnecessary, I thought it was polite.
Again I thought to myself,
“Well that’s an obvious sign for you George… I don’t need the help right now. But it’s okay to ask for help if you need it… People want to help.”
people aren’t the problem- It’s more about my ego & me.
Eventually the realization was that it didn’t sit right with me. Sure, one or two isolated incidences aren’t too big of a deal, but the third one tipped me over myself to realize that my problem is my own pride. I am way too damn proud for help– and perhaps, it’s my crux.
Sign Number 3:
Forward out 40km into the day, I finally reached my Albergue. I was tired, I was hungry, and I needed a shower.
But mostly, I wanted my damn coffee!
I was rather unnaproachable to begin with, but marking my last few paces to conclude the day meant walking my way through the big lawn towards the albergue enterance.
Out front near the door were 5 or 6 picnic tables populated with several pilgrims that had already settled in. And as I approached, people were already eager to try to break their ice with me…
–One of the pilgrims called out to me from my right as I proceeded forward.
–I reciprocate, as I keep my pace for the door.
–A German fellow furthered.
–I said without impeding my footward progress to the door.
“Do you speak english?”
–The German man says louder.
–I barked back.
Between the momentary seconds of interaction my brain ran into the dark…
WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU, and What the fuck do you want from me asshole?!
–I thought silently to myself.
At this point I am interrupted, and my pace comes to a complete stop. In seeing that he has my full attention, he continues to help me by explaining that
“THERE IS NO HOST IN THE ALBERGUE.”
But he doesn’t stop there.
After a momentary pause he furthers that they will be there at 9pm to check people in.
And just when you think he has said all that he has to say…
blah, blah, blah, bloo, blee, blee, blah!
It’s totally a You should have been there! type of story, because looking at it in hindsight downplays the aggravating emotions of experience in the moment of nuissance.
MY TIME IS VALUABLE.
More importantly, my energy is limited and the last thing I want to do is spend it with someone, or something that isn’t pertinent to my experience.
For those reasons, I decided to cut his speech short.
“So I just pick a bed?”
I think he quite enjoyed the sound of his own voice, because he sidestepped my question as he continued the tangent.
“blah, blah blah this, and blah, blah blah that.“
–he continued his spiel.
He continued on to explain the setup of the dorms, what beds are taken, what beds he thinks are not taken, etc… He seemed to just barely stop short on the washroom, kitchen, and other lavatorial etiquette intracacies of the albergue as I interupted him again.
“So, I just pick a bed?!“
–I asked loudly, with an undertone of aggression.
–He said with a close.
–I dismissively responded.
Finally getting the answer that I wasn’t looking for, I continued my footsteps forward up the front stairs through the front door and towards an empty desk that was situated in the middle of the room.
Approaching the desk I could see the very obvious laminate display providing the pilgrim’s with a thorough explanation –in multiple languages, including english– stating with clear and concise detail everything that the German fellow felt dignified to tell me before walking inside.
I don’t understand why a person must intervene when there is no indication of requiring assistance, or any indication of an open friendliness to establish communication or other.
Why the help? What are you trying to save me from… Reading something for myself?
Why must you impose your boisterous helpfullness on my being, when I didnt ask you asshole! –Let me figure it out on my own.
Perhaps I would have been more forgiving if the details weren’t fixed to the table on display for the convenience of everyone to comphrehend with ease!
At the end of it all, I can appreciate where you’re coming from — maybe — because you are trying to extend a good service, or a hand of helpfulness — maybe. But, don’t take it upon yourself to save the world if the world isn’t asking for your help!
In which case…
keep your shit to yourself!
Because I am not open to your advice, nor did I ask for it. So please, let me figure this shit out on my own without interrupting me. If I needed the help, I might have genuinely asked you for some words of helpful information — For fuck’s sake!
G. KOURTESIOTIS, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019.
Here is my two cents after the fact…
What is the meaning behind all of these signs?
It’s funny, because if these encounters were presented as isolated stories they can seem irrelevant or arbitrary. The thing about signs is that they coincidentally contribute to some sort of narrative that is themelike in your life.
Personally, I believe that signs trigger your thought process along some farmiliar wavelength in order to test you for your own growth and personal betterment.
In this particular scenario, the test was heightened in awareness to recognize the selection and prioritization of my own emotional and physical energy. It was a common trait for me in my past to let too many people in while extending myself too far with others. Or, that my energy would be stolen and taxed for other people to use for their benefit.
Sure, these three signs that I have been presented with are pretty trivial, and are somewhat ultruistic in nature…
but that’s the catch!
Because most people— in toxic relationships, or other– become swept away with the obvious niceties that go along with the subtle art of manipulation.
Again, I’m not saying that these people had ill intentions for me, or that people have ill intent for others in general. Some people do without question, but mostly, other people’s energy clashes with our own because we have complicated wants, needs, and expectations between ourselves.
These three helpful strangers were undoubtedly trying to share their way of kindness in their day. Ultimately, it served as a trigger to learn a lesson on how to effectively prioritize, to guard, and spare myself from others.
Sometimes keeping yourself impartial to to others is kindness enough. We don’t have to intervene to forcefully spread kindness as it can be easily misinterpreted.
Hone your intuition and tread lightly, without trying to force closed doors open.
Alternatively, if you find that you yourself are treated like a welcome mat, or that you don’t know how to reserve and guard your personal space and energy… Try these 3 things:
RecogniTION, QUESTION, TAKE ACTION
Recognize your emotions to understand what you are feeling and why you feel the person invading your space should be there, or deserves to stay there.
Question the choice to keep them there or not — Who are they to you? Is this typical behaviour from them? Is the interaction worth it for something greater, or is it pointless and killing you slowly.
Take action on your findings. If it’s worth something to you, maybe you can let it slide or come to terms with whats going on. If it is pointless to you, or that it is destroying you slowly then put your damn foot down, and create separation.
You don’t have to be rude –sometimes you do!– but you must be willing to be stern and assertive in your decision to spare yourself from their intended experience.
Best of luck.
G. Kourtesiotis, 2020.