Well we are almost at an end of our second instalment of the Camino. We are currently in Samos and due to walk to Sarria tomorrow, to end 8 days of walking. We have loved the scenery and the people and the time out, but have not really loved the heat, or a persistent blister that I have had.
So the question was, what to write about as the last blog from the Camino. I have many more to write for this trip, but I wanted one more reflection about the walking.
It came to me the other day. As we were leaving La Herrerias, a lovely small village and heading for our big climb for the day, 8 kms almost straight up, we came across a little tree and sign. The sign asked us to write down on paper “what are your dreams” and to pin them to the tree. Of course there were heaps of messages, folded and pegged or tied to the tree, as the Camino lends itself to these sorts of thoughts.
So I wrote something, meaningful to me and placed it on the tree with the others. I felt good writing it down, not a huge dream, but one that was achievable (well I think so) and which would make my life better and more meaningful.
It got me thinking. Dreams, we all have dreams, no matter what age.
The Camino this time has been a little different. We have meet many people travelling the Camino alone, and who are much older than us. It has been amazing really to see the number of older women and men, well into their 60s and 70s, someone was even 79, trudging along with their backpacks and their walking sticks, relishing the comradery and the reflection of the walk. It was amazing to watch how they approached each day, particularly when we had the 8 km climb up to O Cebreiro, which was very difficult even for us 50 somethings. There they were, slowly ascending the path, one foot in front of the other until they reached the top. Determined, and methodical in their desire to get there.
These were women and men, walking sometimes their second or third time, embracing the hardship and also the beauty of the way.
When we talk of dreams we often think they are only for the young. That the young must have dreams and visions for the future, but older people, well, what would they have dreams about? Aren’t they well, old!
Yet the Camino tells a different story. There have been our German friends, Herbert and Marie, a retired couple who have walked the Camino twice and plan to come back, an older lady from Switzerland, again a third timer who now plans to bring her granddaughter with her next time, a couple of women over 70 from Holland who had walked from Amsterdam, and planned to go all the way to Santiago, carrying an amazingly small amount of clothes on their back. The older Korean man who we passed and then passed again as we, like little jack rabbits, had a rest and then fired up to continue while he just kept on going up the slope. Or the American, covered in sweat, and carrying the most enormous rucksack, who astounded us with his persistence.
All represent something pretty special. They reinforce the idea that we can have dreams and visions for the future at any age and at any stage in our lives.
The Camino says, just start walking, and the journey will begin, and in that journey we may begin to know ourselves better, and find ourselves reaching for new and challenging ways of being in the world, ways we never thought of. We are never too old to live out our dreams if we have the courage, and by living them out we might even change and grow.
You may not walk the Camino, and that’s okay. But dreams are not confined to people under 50! Dreams and the Camino are for any age, young or old.
A lesson I am going to try to remember as I approach 60!