these past few days on the camino primitivo have presented me with an important gift: the opportunity to explore the dark cobwebbed spaces in my mind that need to be cleaned out. a principal component in the fabric of the webs that clutter my life are fear and anger at the prospect of not being able to do things alone because of what i might find looming in the mists of my mind, or in this case, the mists of the forest.
the camino primitivo is a very solitary path. only 4% of people walking the camino go this way. the solitude of walking this path over the mountains has revealed many things to me about the nature of the perceptions that i have about my identity as a woman. walking this way, i feel i must be strong. independent. able to take care of myself. i must learn how to push back alone against the scary monsters and super creeps. move those feet up and down, across these rugged and, at times, lonely mountainous landscapes.
i walk, and i look ahead at the shadows of the people walking in front. i feel the shadows of the ones coming behind. i am in the middle. something shifts. in an instant, the shadows transform into a shining reflection of an idea that helps me to transcend the fear and the anger. it is the glimmer of learning, and as i walk, i invite it in….
as pilgrims, we are like soldiers, walking together, all headed in the same direction. all with the same ultimate objective. eyes down, feet moving, each person is following a camino that came as a result of the countless footsteps of the many pilgrims who walked before us. i am suddenly swimming in feelings of solidarity that release a sense of peace and pride within my heart. in an instant, the shadows teach me that by marching together, we are one. the answer does not always lie in the individual wielding a stick or making a shield of her heart or her skin. it also lies in community, in walking together, keeping each other’s back and standing strong for each other. together.
it is probably a basic understanding, but i swear this is the first time that i experience that being strong is not always achieved alone. sometimes i need to ask for help and cover myself with the protection of the other. we are at once the protector and the protected, and depending on the moment as it emerges, life constantly presents us with spaces where we must inhabit these roles and identities interchangeably..
the mists reveal something very important to me. i give help, but can i receive help?