As I peacefully walk along on a narrow, windy path through the mountains, I hear an all too familiar sound. It’s the “tck, tck, tck” of someone’s walking pole hitting the rocky path except that it’s a lot more abrupt, impatient, in-a-hurry than usual. I glance behind and see a man in a fully-fitted black outfit, who looks prepared for anything (from running a marathon to robbing a bank). :-) I move over to the side to let him through and greet him with a big, “Hola” as accustomed to by now. He looks at me with a patronizing smile as he quickly passes by. Hunh! Wonder what that’s about.
|A beautiful Spanish village on a hill|
A few hours later he passes me up again and looks over his shoulder exactly as he’s passing and yells, “another time” and lets out a big laugh. He’s gone before I could say anything. Throughout the day, he does it again twice, and smugly yells, “another time” as he passes me. At first I'm not sure what he's referring to, and after the second time when I realize he’s trying to say that he’s faster than me, I feel irritated. He’s being just plain rude and silly. Then I find myself laughing at the oddity of the situation. Part of me even thinks that perhaps he’s not all there. And part of me wants to stop him the next time I see him and tell him, “you’re not in a race, you’re on a pilgrimage and anyways if you keep passing the same person moving at a leisurely pace, you’re not really going all that fast, are you?”
The beauty of walking alone is that you notice all the infantile thoughts that cross your mind. Every time I think about the situation I find myself getting disconcerted by it. More than the randomness of this guy, why the heck would I care? Why would I even think twice about it? Yes, he’s rude and strange but it also feels like he’s pushing some deep-rooted buttons. Do I care what he thinks? No, not really. I don’t even have any respect for this guy and don’t even think he’s sane. But there’s a small reactive part of me that wants to walk faster just to get that smug look off his face. Fortunately, I don’t give into that and enjoy my walk at a nice pace.
And luckily I didn’t see him again and savor every step of my walk. The last I see of him was right after he passed me, he was being chased off by a dog in the village. I think the dog might’ve felt threatened by the sound of his walking poles. If he had slowed down, I could’ve helped him walk through the village since I’m pretty good with most dogs.
The whole incident makes me wonder about the influences in our lives. How much of them are based on giving uneven weight to the cynics that we come across. And not to mention the biggest naysayers we carry within each of us. More often than we’d like to admit to ourselves, are we being led by the village idiot?
(From the Camino Journals May 27th)