Day 18: 24.5 kms
Today’s reflection: What do I really want?
❤️ Still wandering the olive groves with Walter today. Still slightly unsatisfied with the sporadic nature of the arrows. Still grateful that at least the sun is shining, and that my partner has a guide, so all I really need to do is keep an eye on him walking up ahead and relax into the path.
Today, walking leads me to considering the relationship I currently have with my lover, and the seemingly unending revolving door of choices that came before him. When I speak of him to mum, she says, with laughter in her voice, “here we go again!!”. But I thought Spanish women loved soap operas?! It has probably been monotonous for my family in the sense that my love life has comprised flying from flower to flower over the years, and sometimes having to work hard to make honey at the end of the day, if you know what I mean. It has certainly been vaguely monotonous for me. Still, circumstance has once again brought me into a situation where I have had the opportunity to get to know someone slowly, over time, over distance, and now, like the olives on these olive trees that I keep walking past, feelings are starting to ripen and fall free from the structures of fear and uncertainty that were holding them in place. Now, I begin to feel. I begin to consider possibilities and imagined futures.
I think of myself walking alone right now, and the ways this is influencing the perception I have of him, of me, and of us, in relationship. There is no doubt that walking alone brings me into contact with the importance of connection. That a life spent alone is no real life-what happens when you lose the arrows and you dont know which way is North? And this is a man I am attracted to who is actually physically and emotionally available, shock!!! horror!!!! Green light! and who is incredibly generous with his kindness, care, and respect for me. Hip hip hooray!! There is no danger here -he is energetic, solid and unwavering. I wish I could say the same about myself. Encountering all of this in the same person is a novelty for me, I will be honest. Now, I cant help but wonder how the revolving door has ultimately affected my tendency to withhold, to be cynical, to feel embarrassment when I externalise feelings for the other. He brings me into contact with these thoughts now, as I walk.
It is ironic for me to find myself feeling what I am feeling and saying what I am saying, when from the beginning, this was supposed to be a project about solitude and walking alone. There is irony but also, inevitably, deep connection, because in fact this solitude is bringing me closer not only to myself but to another person, in very intimate ways.
I walk and think about this and my mind goes to Robyn Davidson and the film adaptation of her excellent book, Tracks, and how they just had to take the story of a woman wanting to be alone and self-sufficient, and infuse it with some kind of romantic narrative (with the National Geographic photographer sent to document her journey through the desert)- because, you know, in the end it cannot be that a woman is self sufficient and happy in her aloneness-there must be a man to anchor her, to validate her. Someone external to herself to provide comfort and protection. This dissonance is an important reminder that film is a reflection of the sociocultural, but not necessarily of individual realities. When I saw the movie and that the film producers had decided to add this particular slant, I was outraged. I then ploughed through interviews with Robyn on youtube and from these I was able to gather that this was what they call “artistic license” and that if she had had a real say, it wouldnt have appeared like that in the film adaptation.
Where do I sit with all of this love stuff? What do I really want? What am I really saying here? To know this I must subtract the perceptions that I have around love – often profoundly untrustworthy and in many ways learned -from the gut, the heart, and the other parts of being that we have collectively learned to attribute less value to…………
Today, on the way, we meet an old woman, sitting on the side of the path. We decide to take a break and I fall into conversation with her. It turns out that her husband of 60 years passed away last month. She has lost weight because she just cant eat. She is in a state of shock and anxiety. I cannot imagine the tremendous emptiness that such a person feels. Or perhaps I dont allow myself to imagine ever sharing my life to that extent with another person, preferring instead to make a premptive strike against future emptiness. There is a deep vulnerability in that emptiness. What if the arrows disappear? forever? Will I find North again? Will I starve and wither away into nothing, because there never was anything else in the first place? As we are leaving, I feel the impulse to take her tissue paper skinned hands in mine, to look deeply into her eyes and say “Abuela, take care of yourself, eat, and enjoy……..if your husband were here I am sure that this is what he would say….”. I say this with all my heart because I want for her to listen to those words and for their meaning to penetrate and for her to get up and go home and make herself a beautiful, nutritious meal. To love herself. To trust herself as an integral being, even though part of the fabric of that being has shifted from existing in a physical reality that can be touched and held, to the realities of memory and perception.
I say these words with all my heart to the Abuela, but also (clearly) to myself.
What I really want at this point is to move slowly and give myself an abundance of time to feel, consider, and subtract (erroneous and self-defeating) perceptions from a (shared) lived experience. I have come to the conclusion that I need to be veeeerrrrryyyyyyyyy sllllllloooooooooowwwwwwwwwwww. Let those olives drop to the ground when they are ready. This walk is teaching me that. I want to feel my weight behind each footstep on the path, whatever the surface may be. To slow down to feel this person. To be mindful. To move forward and keep busy making honey. Importantly, to engage with the spirit of sharing. To reciprocate. This is the way for me to step beyond this fear of vulnerability and trust in the sense that I have of myself as an integral part of an “us”. Standing at the threshold looking in -checking out the landscape and the terrain- it looks like a pretty safe, enjoyable, rewarding space. So…….why the second guessing? Ha! To be continued…… ❤️
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