Over three years ago, I filled a hiking backpack, flew to Europe, and walked El Camino de Santiago. The first day on the Camino, though difficult, was exhilarating. We walked from the beautiful little town of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France, over the Pyrenees, and into Roncesvalles in Spain. The newness of the adventure combined with spectacular views made me excited nearly every step of the way.
The next morning, we were tired and sore, but eager to continue this 500-mile trek. So we set out again, walking for hours, taking in gorgeous scenery, and dining at little cafes or from our packed lunches.
Then we did that again. And again.
Sleep, rise, walk, eat, walk, Mass, eat, sleep. Repeat.
The tiredness soon was eclipsed by pain. My feet ached in a way they never had before. Blisters developed in tender places. The beginning of the day meant pressing my feet into my shoes and then starting the delicate process of walking. After a while, the pain dulled and seemed to fade into my subconscious. However, if we ever paused, my feet gave a fiery reminder to sit down or keep walking.
Yet even these blisters didn’t completely dampen my spirits. I knew they could happen and it was, in a way, part of the Camino adventure. Each day, I offered up my pain for different intentions and this made the journey a pilgrimage instead of a hiking trip.
One day, I no longer wanted to walk.
The intense desires to sleep in, be in the same place for more than 15 hours, or watch a movie were things I hadn’t anticipated when I started walking. There was a definite shift from “This is fun!” to “This is a pilgrimage.” Internally resistant to another day of plodding along, I realized that this adventure would require work and an embracing of the daily struggle.
And then I realized, this is a lot like life. Continue reading “When the Exciting Journey Becomes Tiring, Carry On”