A few years ago I saw the movie Adventureland, a forgettable teen rom-com, that nevertheless stuck with me. I was emotionally wrung out when I left the theater. For me, the movie perfectly captured the bliss of youthful freedom, those amazing high school summers when I had no responsibility and the world was my oyster. I mourned the loss of my youth that day, realizing that I would never again experience that same freedom and fun, first kisses and fast friendships.
I walked the last 90 kilometers (56 miles) of the Camino to Finisterre in two days. I felt strong and full of energy, and the miles just flew by.
My first glimpse of Finisterra from a rise in the trail is a moment I will never forget. As I gazed out at the water, I was overcome with emotion: tears of joy at the realization that what I felt on the Camino was as close as I could remember to that lost feeling of youthful freedom and tears of sadness that this experience was coming to an end.
Yet, I also know that my time on the Camino was far more powerful than anything I could have experienced in my bygone youth. With age, comes wisdom, strength, and a sense of self that we nuture over time. My walk was nothing short of transformational, in large part because I experienced it at this time and this place in my life. I connected with myself in a way that I never have before, relishing time alone with my own thoughts, my own wonderful self. And I connected with other people in a way that I never have before, meaningfully but in such a short time.
The generosity of spirit, thought, time and kindness shown by the incredible people I met along the way, for others they barely knew, is unparalleled in my life. I will forever cherish my time with each and every one of them, whether it was just for a meal or for days spent walking, talking, and laughing.
Several days into my walk I told Alex that I didn’t understand why people walk the Camino over and over again. Now I do. What I experienced on the Camino is unlike anything I have experienced anywhere else in the world. The friendship, community, support, and selflessness of fellow pilgrims just doesn’t reveal itself in everyday life like it does on the Camino. I am going to miss it dearly.
Now the work begins to figure out how to manifest the transformation I feel, to maintain this feeling of joy and my connection to myself and others in the “real world.” I guess the journey isn’t really over.
Congratulations, Erin. Your Camino finished in the end of the world, and a new world is revealed to you. I was only a week on the Camino with you, and it was enough to experience the sensations and emotions that you describe in your last post. You will all be in my mind and in my heart forever and my memories will be of peace, happiness and generosity that I discovered in the Camino. I think it made us wiser, learned to live every day, every hour, every minute, as if it were an amazing gift of life. Have a good trip back to Portland, and I firmly believe that what you will decide to become from now will be the best decision of your life. Tu amigo del Camino y para siempre.