1.23.2011

Meeting Friends On the Path to Nowhere (Day 18)

The Flat Mesetas of Spain are exactly that -- flat. Flat as a ruler. You keep on walking and walking and the scenery never changes. Twenty minutes later, two hours later, four hours later – same view. One straight-pebble-filled road with fields on each side, followed by -- nothing that your eyes can yet see. Your rational mind knows that there is something beyond the horizon, but you start to wonder. There are no markers on the road so you could’ve walked 10 kilometers or 15. And with a pain in your leg and a blister on your foot, there’s a big difference between 10 and 15. I try to calculate based on the time and how far I roughly walk in an hour, but the estimate is totally off since I’ve been limping all day. I remind myself to be in the moment. “You’ll arrive when you arrive.”

When I first heard about the Meseta, I was excited about walking on a flat road after crossing all the mountains. It would give the body much needed rest, and I really wasn’t worried about the mind. I know some pilgrims were worried about boredom, I actually looked forward to it so I can see what comes up to the surface from within. The inner voice gets a chance to speak up and a free license to roam the alleyways of the mind.

Walking along the path, I keep having this feeling that it is possible that I may be the only person that exists in the world. The irony of the situation since I'm walking alone to Finisterra, “the end of the world”. My mind knows that it's not true, yet after walking on the same inexhaustible path for hours, parts me of feel that it could be a possibility. Perhaps nothing exists, all the memories are just a dream that I am just waking up from.

Then it strikes me: on this open road there’s nothing to do, no one to be, no birth, no death, no separation from anything else in the world. I’m just a tiny little speck in the world trying to make sense of things much larger than me; Things that I already know deep inside (everyone does) and that don’t require words. I suddenly go from uncertainty and a sense of separation from the world to total oneness. The road and I are the same. The wind, the sun, eternity – they are all right here along on the path. The pain in my leg somehow vanishes, and I continue walking along to the beat of my own heart that is no longer my own. The sense of I disappears if only for a short while.

After a gazillion kilometers later my eyes finally spot the top of a roof in the distance. Could it be I wonder? As I get closer I realized there is a building. Civilization! I finally arrive at the only CafĂ© in a tiny village along the 27-kilometer stretch and find T and K chatting over a cup of coffee. They do exist – I thought for a second. I would’ve never thought that someone I know is walking only minutes ahead of me. K pulled up a chair, “take the load off” she smiled. And I did. It was nice to see friends on the path to nowhere. 

(From the Camino Journals May 17th)

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