There's something liberating about giving yourself permission to heal yourself, to be frail, to be human. The weight of trying to accomplish a goal, succeed, meet your goals burdens you and doesn't give you the time to mend those broken tissues, wounds, and hurts. Some things can't be forced and just take time.
And yourself permission is often similar to forgiving yourself of not meeting your own expectations. You might feel that you've let yourself or others down. And you need to forgive yourself for doing so. Until you do, you carry the feeling that you aren't really healed.
So goes carrying your world on your shoulders while you're in pain. Something must give. You can press on and endure your unhealthy condition, possibly making it worse. Your body might rebel until you are forced to stop completely. You may slowly and unknowingly reduce your capacity, a machine that becomes ever less efficient until it's not useful any more.
Pilgrimage on foot offers a good reminder that physical weight isn't different from emotional and social weight. Leave the weight behind, carry less, and each step feels better. Cumulatively over the course of many miles, you feel the benefits in less wear and tear. So you look through your pack, almost daily, wondering if you need to jettison this or that. If only we did that in our lives as often or effectively.
Is this rent or mortgage worth the weight? The emotional scarring from a bad job or dysfunctional relationships? Do we constantly say there are no choices?
I'm so thankful that I've been using a transport service. Since I started walking just over a week ago, I've had to shed much. Detergent for laundry? Yes I have permission to leave it. Shampoo? Likewise. A souvenir? Take a weightless photo and say goodbye. And using a service to carry the backpack while I use the day pack has lightened me enough to feel better about my hip and to set limits on my expectations.
The planned rest days to do some tourism? I need the time more to reduce my daily average and speed. So I'll be ditching those days and walk more realistic distances until, or even if I can, return to prior expectations.
And that forgiveness gave me joy today. I was able to walk with not the day pack (1/3 of my weight) but with the backpack. I instead used the transport service to send the daypack ahead, filled with my nightly needs not things I need on the road.
And I made it up to the peak of a hill Alto Del Perdòn. I stopped more, and enjoyed more. It's that hill in the movie The Way that has flattened statues and wind mills. And it felt awesome.
I left later, ate the included breakfast offered by the albergue, and walked with Alix. But at the first town, 6km away, she had to take the bus back because she left her medications at the albergue. I too couldn't find my blood pressure medicine, which is what got her to notice that she lost hers. We parted and I continued.
Soon I caught up with Diane and Claude. She got new shoes and all sorts of paraphernalia for her blister. We sat at a lake and breathed in some beauty and rest. We drew a crowd and soon it was a multi-ethnic beach party.
They went ahead but I caught them at the last village before the peak, checking in. I got a Coke Zero and enjoyed the bright sun. What a change from the hail just a few days earlier! While sitting, I found Alix's traveling companions, Alice and Lin, and told them what Alix had to do. I met Janelle of Reno/East bay and did her study abroad in San Sebastián, who as it turns out was sitting behind me at the restaurant last night. And met Mike from Long Island.
I continued up the hill and got to the statues. I was just here in Spetember with mom and dad but it felt different. I felt liberated of my pains. I went slower but I still got here with most of my pack.
After a light sandwich lunch, I found my meds in a side pocket and I worked my way down the very rocky and steep path towards my destination Puente La Reina. Most of the afternoon was alone in gorgeous fields. I'm not sure if it was the allergies or the sunshine but I started to weep with happiness. I noticed that the heat made me thirsty so I refilled my water and the icy water felt wonderful.
It felt so good to not be limping today. Lord, if only we can give that joy to all who limp.
The last few kilometers I walked with Lucy from Brazil. In broken Spanish, English, and French we walked and talked about her job loss and taking the opportunity to finally live out her three decade dream of doing the Camino.
I got to my albergue, Jakue, on the outskirts of town. We said au revoir. I realized my camel started to leak and I'll have to sleep on a wet bed, so I'll need to find a replacement water system. After a quick laundry wash, I rested then went into town. The old Roman bridge was quite impressive. I then went into the Santiago church and joined the evening Rosario (daily rosary service).
Afterwards, I ate the most since leaving home. The albergue offered a buffet and I had a large salad with egg, asparagus, etc followed by a warm appetizer plate of some pasta dish with cauliflower and a pasta dish with clams and shrimp. I chose a served main plate do roast chicken and of course it had fries. By this time I was running out of steam so I did the best I could. I tried a couple of postres (desserts) but settled for ice cream. While I was finishing up, Norma from Ireland, who inherently for a couple more days, updated me on Alix. Alix caught up with her friends and was just a town or two behind.
So today was a day bookended by prayer and food. And with that joy, joy of ascending a gorgeous peak, joy of sunshine, joy of finding that giving myself permission has been so liberating.
Oh, and the peak Alto Del Perdòn? That name means the Heights of Forgiveness. Thank you God for taking me there.
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