August 31, 2018
Today is the last day of August and my 21st day of walking. It’s amazing to me how hours and distances on The Camino are “relative”. Today felt like a “short” day with an undertaking of 22.2 km (13.8 miles!) from León to Villar de Mazarife even with its several inclines and declines. And it felt all the shorter for the sharing of my trek most of the way with Rebecca from New Jersey!
I didn’t leave my hotel until 7;00 – man was it mentally hard to put my shoes on after a day off! And the batteries were dead (again) in my headlamp so that fueled my hesitancy as well. It was very confusing getting out of town but after a half an hour I eventually picked up the flechas amarillo (yellow arrows) since I went a more straightforward way as directed by the map versus following the shells through town that wound pilgrims east around the cathedral and on a goose chase back to the west.
I walked with Lawrence from South Africa about an hour into my morning and then Rebecca joined us about twenty minutes later. Lawrence dropped off for a coffee and we two oeregrinas continued, arriving at Casa de Jesus by noon – even with a stop for café con leche. This is another Very Little village yet the albergue is inviting with a big yard, a pool !!!) and lots of flowers!!
Initially I was not going to share this next portion – something that I dictated as I was walking a few days back on August 26th. The Camino has many levels of self challenge, so I thought it would be illuminating to go ahead and expose an emotional piece…
“I do believe that the theme of my Camino has changed. Receiving Dixie’s Friday night message about going home rather than meeting up again when I set out on Saturday morning for my second day across what we pilgrims call “The Meseta”, I had plenty of solitary time to reflect. My theming this Camino, “letting go” and “going with the flow” was an “intentional opening” yet, I realize now that I was trying to make sense out of a situation that I felt was thrust upon me and trying to put it into a positive and edifying framework. This is of course not true at all (the thrust upon me part) yet I allowed it to feel that way. For months pre Camino I had spent a considerable amount of time planning, researching and training, enthused to be going it on my own. Close to departure time I invited a friend to join me and she accepted! I’ve invited several people to go, but no one has pulled the trigger, and I guess maybe deep down I didn’t think it would happen this time either. So when I acquiesced that I wasn’t going to be able to do a solo Camino, I got to thinking that maybe that was all part of the whole “universal” message to me anyway – just “letting go” and “going with the flow”. Even though I don’t take my direction from “the universe” – I take it from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and God, my Father – and the thinking capabilities he has endowed me with. Sometimes, however, I let those thoughts creep in.
At the age of 60, it’s not like I don’t know a few things about myself. I am quite sure that not only do I perform well and create an environment to live fully WITH a plan, I also know that I truly enjoy the planning stages, appreciate an outlined foundation, and it’s a tool that has served me well in my life. People often give me a difficult time for being so serious, having so many things going on all the time, and being on the go-go-go. On the other hand, I frequently hear how “lucky” I am and how I “get to do so many things”.
There’s no doubt that I’m fortunate, and I am VERY grateful. However, I also believe that I have put a lot of effort into creating my good fortune as well as acting upon opportunities when presented with them and today, while trudging alone through mind numbing (yet Beautiful) Spanish wheat fields, I choose to OWN that!!. I don’t think I would have accomplished an iota of the dreams and schemes that I have held in my life had I not planned for and around them, built foundations and then (continuously) executed. That’s just how I get things done, and that’s how I enjoy my life and honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself!
So today I realized that in the earlier naming of a theme for this Camino, that I was acquiescing to a negative perspective of my tendency to plan events and excursions down to the last detail. Now I choose to look at this “planning” as one of the more valuable attributes of my personality.
I also think that I was throwing the concept of “having compassion” into the mix and feeling that in order for me to express compassion, that I needed to let go of my own desires and needs. Yet, unfortunately, resentment will often build up when I put my own dreams on the back burner and frequently the result is action contrary to compassion!
And, as I’m reflecting on it now, I am choosing to give myself credit for the compassionate person that I am in my every day life. I do have a very big heart, I Do HAVE an attribute of compassion and It doesn’t have to mean giving myself away all of the time.
So I guess, as I’m walking alone again today through the tedious wheatfields of “the Meseta”, I am coming to a thought of embracing ALL of me. It’s not a new concept. I’ve wrestled with it countless times in counseling and in reading – that each of us is made up of various personality types. I have my judgmental part, I have my childish persona, I have a part of me that is joyful, I have my serious portion – and when they all come together I’m a composite person and I like to think that I’ve “got it together”. And just for a benchmark, we all know fragmented people who maybe can’t coalesce those multiple personality pieces…
So I’m thinking today as I’m walking – rather than getting angry with myself for being judgmental occasionally or frustrated with myself for not always being compassionate, maybe I just have to reckon with the different parts of me as they come up. Oh, there’s the judgmental part of Robbi out front and center. OK, you have had your opinion, now go back to the corner. And oh, there’s the compassionate side of Robbi coming out in this situation. And so on. I can recognize my various parts and even say “hello” to them as well as give them the stage, yet I don’t have to let just one personality trait define all of me.
I am each of those things! And it’s time to finally accept all of me!
Boy that was a long time coming to that lesson!
So I can be cynical and also Pollyanna-they seem contradictory and well, I guess they are. They can both be true – And contradictory, for ME! I spend so damn much time apologizing for myself and it’s not really that I worry what people think of me, I’m worried about what I think of myself, having a very high standard of integrity, courtesy, fairness and effort. I just don’t know any other way to think because I always want to be the best I can be, strive to be the best I can be, and encourage others to be the best they can be, too. This comes off harsh at times, I know. But “I ams who I ams who I ams”, to quote Popeye! That’s not to say I can’t continue to learn and grow and change. But the basic core of me is not going to change very much and that’s OK.
I have had a sense of this resolution coming in and out of my consciousness over the last several years actually. But somehow today, after walking for hours by myself, added to the hours of analyzation that has gone before, and reflecting on the events of late and at hand, I feel like it is resting just a little bit more snuggly, comfortably, and like it’s home.
I am independent and I am decisive. And I know that sometimes that will come off as impatient. I am organized and action oriented. I recognize that makes some uncomfortable. I have focus, I am optimistic and energetic when aiming towards a goal and proceed with purpose and persistence. That might make people feel like I’m competing with them or challenging them to the same thing…
I won’t give up and you can count on that!i
Ahhh, the tears and the cheers of the Camino.