While I’m sitting at a cafe in Burgo Ranero writing this I’m hearing “Wrecking Ball” drifting over on the back of the warm Spanish air that is reaching out, caressing me. I guess you just can’t get away from some shit out here on the camino. Not that I’m not a huge fan ;). You can probably guess that it’s the Miley Cirus version blasting over the cafe loudspeaker.
I guess I just prefer the Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young songs that have to do with wrecking balls. Apparently the term has made it into the pop music vernacular. It kind of detracts from my revelry, feeling like I’m one of the lost generation in some cafe in Paris or some other far off place. I always said my generation was like the lost generation. Only problem is we didn’t realize we were lost.
Anyway, I feel I’ve lost something in my posts (a little humor, some pathos). I hope I can get back to where I started. For those still reading (those who aren’t, well, won’t read this anyway!) thanks for hanging in. I’m grateful.
So last night, I was hanging out on the front of the cafe adjoining the auberge in Templarios having a glass of wine waiting for Cormac and Sinead. We were going to have dinner- they were leaving for Madrid the next day. I called Amanda- we had texted each other about actually speaking on the phone (for those who don’t know, it’s this old fashion form of communication, it predates texting). We talked about dogs, children, backyards, the camino, life. I gave her a few ideas on a new business thing she was considering. We didn’t talk about us, as we’ve chosen to set that aside.
Cormac and Sinead showed up and let me know they were sitting down for dinner so I had to say goodbye to Amanda. There was one of those pauses, the ones when your waiting for the other to say something. I was hoping maybe she would say she missed me, or maybe even that she loved me. I wanted to take that pause and squeeze it until it exploded into a million stars like the ones we saw on our first date walking down that sandy path, and tell her that I missed her laugh and when we first got together and couldn’t keep our hands off each other and holding her in my arms in bed her head resting on my shoulders her eyes closed and a smile on her face and the dogs and the kids and the trips together and the discussions late into the night and…
The phone started to cut out (as it will in Terradios de Templarios) and we quickly said our goodbyes. If you watched the Alan Watts video in the last post, you already know what I’m going to tell you. We let so much shit get in our way, and as Alan says, it’ll all come out in the wash. I should have said something (maybe “I miss you” or “I love you”), but I didn’t want to give Amanda the wrong idea. Im not out here pining for her. In fact I’m out here to walk by myself, and free myself from the fucked up habits my brain has acquired from a lifetime of not looking out for myself, of depending on others too much for emotional support.
And recognizing and understanding the dysfunctional things that made Amanda and I cling to each other is a big part of that lesson. And I thank her for that. And what the fuck- the fact that I’m half a world away from someone who has meant a lot to me over the past year doesn’t mean I can’t miss them.
Cormac, Sinead, and I had a relaxing dinner and reminisced about the days gone by, what was in store for them when they got back home, and the friends we had made along the way. We said our goodbyes, and that was it. Another apt metaphor I suppose. Friends come and go in our lives. Cormac, and to a lesser extent Sinead, and I had crossed paths for a good portion of my journey. And like friends you had when you were a kid, some move away. But a part of them stays with you forever.
The next morning when the alarm went off at 5, I left Templarios in the dark, walking along the highway for awhile and leaving Cormac and Sinead behind me. After 1 kilometer or so, the road veered off into fields, pretty much a straight shot for awhile. The path underfoot became lighter with the coming of the new day.
Out here you only have to put one foot in front of the other. And at the end of the day, concern yourself with a shower, eating, maybe laundry. It’s that simple if you want it to be. And sometimes when you’re putting one foot in front of the other, you remember to turn around:
After 1 or 2kilometers more, the road curled into small fields of wheat, corn, sunflowers. I stopped to take a few pictures and started to see a few other pilgrims passing me by.
After another 1k or so, I walked through a small town, Moratinos. Not a very interesting town, and nothing was open so I moved on, into more fields. After another 3k the path went through San Nicolas where I stopped and had breakfast. The young girl serving the pilgrims didn’t seem too happy to be there, that early in the morning, standing by to serve us pilgrims our cafe con leche and croissants. She’d probably rather be playing Minecraft. Or maybe looking for the latest Miley Cyrus video on youtube.
As I left breakfast place there was a little incline for a half a kilometer or so to some fields. There was one field that was full of small bushes with yellow flowers. Once in awhile, the happy face of a sunflower would be popping up. It reminded me of another scene from Harold and Maude:
MAUDE: I should like to change into a sunflower most of all. They are so tall and simple. What flower would you like to be?
HAROLD: I don’t know. One of these maybe?
MAUDE: Why do you say that?
HAROLD: Because they are all alike..
MAUDE: Oooh, but they are not. Look. See – some are smaller, some are fatter, some grow to the left, some to the right, some even have lost some petals – all kinds of observable differences. You see, Harold, I feel that much of the world’s sorrow comes from people who are this, and allow themselves to be treated as that…
Our society, it seems to me, tends to not favor individuality. In fact in the past I’ve thought (simply in passing) that some of the things we come up with to label kids with (things that weren’t “syndromes” or whatever a few years ago) are simply “problems” that are “discovered” due to over analyzation and the fact that these kids are not fitting into the prescribed parameters our society requires to have them be future efficient cogs in the machine, that in one sense is our society. And this seems to be what our schooling system (another big machine) promotes.
To me this seems to be the way our society chooses to look at humanity, which in essence is how we choose to look at ourselves, and how we choose to live our lives. It will always be that way as long as our goal is money, power, prestige, even celebrity. It seems like these have become the things we value. As those things become more and more important (and I don’t smell much change in the air) whatever god was slips further and further from our hands, and hearts, and no longer provides any kind of meaning we may get from life as we trudge towards Bethlehem.
The machine that is our society needs us to be like all those flowers. The same. Just write this off as another rant from some curmudgeonly dude who doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the wall. If you really want a good read on our society, check out the Noam Chomsky doc on Netflix: “Requiem for the American Dream”.
I walked for another few kilometers and ran into the polish dude I had met a few days back at the oasis where I listened to Stairway to Heaven sang by monks. His full name was Macivjsamolej , but I called him Mike. We walked into Sahagun, a small big city, together. Mike is a young, energetic, talkative guy who had walked the camino before, in fact he had even published a guidebook about it in Poland.
We walked together for awhile, into Sahagun. It was fun hearing about life from a Polish dude walking the camino. And Mike had a lot to say. Not that I didn’t have a few words to throw in edgewise. It seems everyone I run into out here (at least those like Mike-his English was impeccable) that I can communicate with, are thoughtful, honest, caring. I secretly hoped that everyone I ran across saw me in the same light. I just don’t know, at this crossroads on my journey, why I seem to know myself less than I ever have in my life.
We got to Sahagun and stopped at a little cafe for refreshment. Mike was going to meet his wife in town and continue walking later in the day. We bid goodbye, but I was pretty sure I’d see him again. I left town along a paved road, and got into the country. I was alone again, but there were the trees, wildflowers and butterflies to accompany me. Damn, there always seems to be a lot of butterflies here to accompany me. Kind of funny- in the one screenplay I’m writing, a monarch butterfly is the main symbol of the script- and it stands for the main characters rebirth (caterpillar,- cocoon- butterfly)
I slogged on. It was hot, but there were beautiful blue puffy clouds that reminded me to smile. After about 5 kilometers, I hit El Burgo de Ronero and stopped at a busy cafe to get some information about accommodations in the town, as Brierley’s information regarding this berg was a little weak. I ran into Bridget, who I had met a few days prior in Templaros. She spoke very little English (and me very little French) but we communicated well enough to know that we were both trying to figure out where to stay. We talked to the proprietress of the cafe who recommended a place on the edge of town so we walked over.
The Albergue La Laguna looked sort of like a converted motor lodge for pilgrims. It had a courtyard in the middle with grass, and sleeping quarters around the perimeter. I checked in with the proprietor- an Italian dude with slicked back hair- think Steve Buscemi only not quite as handsome (yeah that was a joke). I shelled out a few extra Euros for a room with only 4 beds, cause that’s all he had left.
After settling in, I hobbled over to the locus of the town and got a bite to eat, and write. I ran into Bridget and sat with her, although again, we didn’t talk much due to the language barrier. She left and I continued to write while sipping on a beer in the hot Spanish evening.
When I had finished I hobbled back to the Albergue La Laguna. As I walked, my blisters reminded me that today was over a 30 k day. My heart and soul reminded me that it had been another beautiful day on the camino.
Spot on with your observation about society’s fear of individuality and its desire to slightly elevate the lows and file down the highs to create students and citizens who are “just right,” who don’t rock boats, tilt windmills or question authority. Middle of the road subjects. But as you well know by now, that part of the road is a danger place to hang.
Very well put. Assume you used tilting windmills on purpose…me being in the land of Don Quixote…