Ever wonder why? Not the every day why’s like: why is there a moon or why gravity or why do my pants feel so tight or why is that old person looking back at me in the mirror when I still feel 18…but why am I? Why am I in this place, in this life in this career, in this existence? What is my job here? And not the actual job either – they say everyone is replaceable after all – but why am I doing this thing, in this place, with these people right at this time?
No? To be honest neither had I really. I’ve wondered what’s in my future and thought ad nauseam about how I should be planning my career, and whether I am a good mother, wife, daughter friend…but I’ve never really pondered why am I doing this thing, these things, at this moment this year and right now. Why is this the world I’m in? Why am I being and striving and driving and working at being all excellent and not so great and stuff? Why?
And then I took a walk…Not just any walk, a very long and, pretty intense walk. Not a stroll, not a power walk, a pilgrimage.
My mother had wanted to do the Camino de Santiago for the longest time, so I figured “why not?” It’s only 5 days, I can walk can’t I? I’m fit, and healthy, And how far is 118km anyway, some folks do this pilgrimage thing for 800km’s, this small 118km slice of a walk will be a doddle (yip I used those words), a casual five day stroll through some quaint Spanish villages eating tapas and drinking local wines, what a treat…
It was a treat! A treat of proportions I could never have imagined. Not because of the tapas or wine (which were fresh and delicious and soul feeding) nor because it was a “doddle” (which it wasn’t); but because life never gives you 5 days to just walk and walk and walk. To just be. To just experience and to breathe and to be. And just for the record Mr Camino marker guy – your 118kms is totally wrong! My GPS showed 150km’s of non-doddling walk, but let’s not get into that for this blog.
Six to eightish hours a day of walking through glades and farmland, up seemingly never-ending calf-numbingly steep hills and madly steeply down again, crossing streams and rocky paths through deserted hamlets and rural towns is a gift like no other. One doesn’t think (weirdly), one just walks, body too sore to think, legs too tired, feet too hot, too thirsty, too out of ones comfort zone to think. You just walk. And be. Chatting some of the way, silent for some. One foot in front of the other. Just walking.
And then, out of nowhere comes an overwhelming sense of peace. Of being in the right place. Of acceptance. Of the place, the pain, the people around, the exhaustion. An over whelming sense of its all good, no great, fantastic in fact!
And then came this great big question – if being here, walking with nothing but what I need, if getting so fundamentally back to the beginnings of life feels so incredible- then why? Why my life? (Which I love by the way). Why am I? It wasn’t an angry or sad or morbid or existential enlightening kind of a question, nothing nagging or sulky or insulting or judgy. Just a childlike curiosity – why?
I love that why? I don’t have an answer. I’m beginning to think there doesn’t need to be an obvious one either. But it’s something I want to keep asking, probably not every day, but often enough that I am reminded that there is a why. There is a reason it’s me here, there is a reason I’m doing this. Let me remember from time to time, not get swept away in the taking of steps, in the racing, in the stuff. Let me stop every now and then and remember that I have a small part to play in this that world I live in, let me make that part good, great even, let me remember what makes me great at this thing, these things, this living of life and do a whole lot more of that thing. Shouldn’t we all?
PS If you know me, and in a few months, or years, or days, it looks like I’ve forgotten the question – send me out for a stroll! I promise to do the same for you.