simplicity

 

the pilgrimage is a space where life becomes incredibly simple. you realise that you don’t need very much to engage with happiness. you walk and you take care of your body. this is the first priority.

i walk for an hour or two, then stop for 15 minutes or so, unload my backpack, take off my shoes, peel off the socks, walk in the grass. rest. inspect my feet. is there anything suspicious happening? any twinges or sore bits that might indicate a blister coming? i deal with that first.

….lesson two: when you feel pain or discomfort, address it as soon as possible. denying that it is there means that you might have a bigger problem down the track….

keep walking and walking, eyes peeled for the signs. smile and say good morning/afternoon to whoever you find. sing out “buen camino!!!” to other pilgrims. i arrive at my destination for the day, where will i sleep? find it. it is best to choose albergues that have a garden or some sort of green space where i can go and sit for a couple of hours. then, with a cold beer in my hand, i take off my shoes and socks for the last time in the day and plop down on the grass. i connect with the mother and thank her for opening the way for me today. look to the sky and give thanks for the weather that has also accompanied me. i stretch. lots of stretching. i pay close attention to how my body is feeling. i inspect my feet once again. i do any repairs that need to be done.

….lesson three: if a blister comes up, heat a needle in a flame and put a couple of pinpricks in the blister to let the liquid out. use betadine. let it dry overnight then cover with a bandaid the following morning before you walk. don’t put moisturiser on your feet in the morning. only the night before. don’t put socks on when your feet are wet. dry skin means less blisters…..

drink the beer in my hand, its’ cold, malty goodness tastes heavenly after walking. my friends and family will have very rarely seen me enjoying beer, but now, let me tell you that i have discovered the simple joy of a cold beer at the end of a hard but satisfying day of movement….

then comes a hot shower. delicious hot water coursing across my shoulders and down my back, melting physical tension away, turning me to sweet jelly. give thanks for hot water. cold water on my knees. hot water then cold water. get that blood circulating. the shower is almost as good as the beer. bless the people who set up these albergues.

what will i eat? all this walking means i can eat whatever i want. simple. i am not thinking about my waistline or fitting into my skinny jeans. bread. cheese. strawberries, fried eggs. chocolate, fried potatoes. jamon serrano…..whatever my body asks for, i procure.

i enjoy the company of fellow pilgrims. we swap stories, laugh. i fall into bed, happily exhausted, just like when i was a child. lights out.

and the mind. blissfuly long stretches of nothingness, just me and the path. thoughts floating upwards then swallowed up by the space between footsteps. some thoughts persist, but the movement makes them drain down through my heart, then out through my feet, absorbed into the endless arms of the earth.

all is good.

i am blessed.

it is simple.

every step i take

carries my loved ones along with me.

nothing else matters.

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