I'm a little behind my schedule. The plan was to pick up my Camino de Santiago journal on Wednesday the 17th September 2014, a year from the day I boarded a plane at John Wayne Airport, flew to Newark International and then on to Madrid, Spain where I figured out where and how to get the Aeropuerto Express bus to travel across town to the RENFE station where I would board a train to Pamplona and then a bus to St. Jean Pied de Port arriving at my destination some 48 jet-lagged hours later. But I'm getting ahead of myself. For those of you who know my family, you know that at least one character is himself in transition so plans being what the Goddess laughs at means I have to reconfigure this idea of mine.
Let's begin here by allowing Enya to set the stage with her lyrics to Pilgrim. Each time I listen to this haunting music I am reminded that even after a year's time has passed this much I know is true: it's a long way to find out who you are.
I want to use this time and this space to reflect on 500 miles trekked in 5 weeks. What it felt like then and what it feels like now.
I can tell you that waking up to see Spain spread out below me as we descended was neither thrilling nor exciting. I was petrified! WTF was I thinking? Estoy solo! It would be easy enough to whip out my credit card, find the United Airlines counter and grab the first flight home. You think I'm kidding? Have Credit Card - Will Travel.
What stopped me? I fumbled in my backpack and pulled out a letter pressed into my hand a few hours before I was supposed to go to sleep on the last night in my own bed. The letter began, "Dear Diane, Well done! As you read this thousands of feet above the earth, you may be wondering why I gave you a 'WELL DONE!' card to start your Camino de Santiago journey. But, in actuality, it is a great start. Why? Regardless of what does or doesn't happen from here on out, you will be forever changed simply because you showed up. And that, my friend, is 'WELL DONE!'"
How did Lorraine know? I would return to her letter often over the miles. The words of this storyteller encouraged me to get started on my adventure. Was I still scared? You bet! As she pointed out (and I had no way of knowing how accurate her words would prove to be), some days it would be a trail and other days it would be a trial. But if I agreed to show up (as I had promised I would) "step-by-step, moment-by-moment, heartbeat-by-heartbeat", I would show myself that this was "WELL DONE!"
And so it begins.....