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November 27, 2023

Camino de Santiago: a Metaphor for Life.

As I sat under the September sun in the wet sand of the beach of Langosteira, I inevitably started to reflect on the prior five weeks.

My camino from San Sebastian to Finisterre took me 39 days and a little over a thousand kilometers. Every day was a blessing and every day held its own challenges and lesson as well.

I met a whole spectrum of people with different mindsets, backgrounds, and ethnicities. With some of them, we were alike, and with others, we were as different as we could be. But in one thing we all agreed: Camino is like life itself.

I happened to choose the two most difficult caminos, the Camino del Norte and the Camino Primitivo (or so I was told by people who walked them all, as I, myself can’t compare). In both routes, the road is an endless combination of ups and downs and sudden turns and redirections; like life itself, you never really see what’s coming next. You might think you see what’s coming in the next turn, but when you arrive, you will notice that it’s not even the route you need to take or something unexpected is waiting for you. Often, when it seems easy, it’s hard. When it seems hard, it is sometimes easy—but mostly as hard as it seemed.

After getting educated in so many things that were supposed to prepare us for life, you’ll think you prepared well for the camino. You read all the blogs and books and forums; you think you have everything you’ll need and eliminated what you don’t need. On the camino, you’ll figure out that it was not exactly the case. Just as school can’t prepare you for life and you learn a ton of useless things, your backpack will be filled with extra weight you thought you needed but don’t, and there will be things and skills you thought you wouldn’t need but realize they would be the most necessary on the road.

Just as in life, there are always signs for you to follow. Sometimes easy to find, other times harder. There will be times when you reach confusing crossroads with no signs, and other times where there is only one way to go but five yellow arrows will yell at you from different places and angles, when you have to take the only option that is presented for you. But don’t worry, at times when you can’t see the sign, the only thing you need to do is look further ahead.

The right message comes to you at the right time (if you are open to receive it).

The camino is full with handwritten messages all over the road signs, benches, tables, literally anywhere. I noticed that what catches your attention is what you need to hear that day. If you are not open to receiving your message at the moment, the same message will appear again and again until you finally take note of it.

People come and go and all you can do is accept it. No one in life stays forever with us, right? Everyone just comes and they all leave their footprints on your life. Some come with dirty boots; there are people who come barefoot, and new life springs from each of their steps. Some stay longer; some stay just for a blink of a second.

It’s one of my hardest lessons in life to learn to let go of people, because that is how it is. No one really belongs to us and we can’t force people to do anything they don’t want to. Respect their free will.

But everyone we meet has a reason to appear in our lives. They are either a blessing or they come to teach us a lesson. On my walk, I realized that even if I have to meet someone to teach them a lesson, it’s up to me how I teach it. I can leave them with a bitter taste in their mouth, but I can also be their blessing while they learn.

You’re stronger than you think. Walking the camino alone or with your newly met family, you’ll realize how badass you actually are. It doesn’t matter if you walk 10km a day or 45km or you take a day (or four) off to rest. It’s never actually easy, but you made it. You did what was the best of you that day and that is all that matters.

The best thing in life is when you finally reunite with your soul family. You’ll know who they are when you connect with them. Still there are times when you have to walk alone, and the camino will make sure it will be so. Just accept it. If it’s fated, you’ll meet again.

Every camino is different just as there are stages in life which are entirely different. You can’t compare them to one another. For me, norte was more for thinking and leaving the beggage behind. While I only really made friends with one person, that connection was deeper than anything else. The primitivo was more for building new foundations. The muxia was my test to see if I learned the lessons, and the finisterre is where I found what I lost—which ridiculously was with me the whole time. But I had to come here and throw out all the unnecessary trash I was carrying to find my long lost treasure on the bottom of my (metaphorical) travel bag.

In the end, despite all the hardships, pain, and struggle, the camino (and life) is magic that appears or disappears in a split second, depending on its own will. But it’s always present in a way.

Trust the universe and let go of worries because that is the moment when the universe can slip in and present you its wonders. If you’re open to receive its blessings, life and the camino will give you everything you need.

~

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