When Mark West’s life crashes and burns, he books a flight to Europe and sets out to walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. As he puts it: “I was hoping that a million steps down a path through Spain in the middle of summer to find some saint buried in a church in Santiago de Compostella would help me lose sight of the things I needed to rid myself of, to see the path that lies in front of me more clearly, and to figure out how to walk it with the time I have left before I shuffle off this mortal coil.”
His story intertwines three significant journeys: his married life which ended in abuse, estrangement from his daughter, and finally divorce; life alone, therapy, and his life changing relationship with a beautiful Swedish divorcee with four kids and three dogs; and his walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.
During the journey he meets many interesting characters- Cormac the Irish teacher and not so skilled teller of donkey jokes; Kento the Zen Coyote Patron Saint of the Camino; Asia, the beautiful, mysterious Polish woman who keeps crossing paths with him along the way. He mixes his experiences with reflections on his failed marriage and recent break up, and tries to make sense of the beautiful, fractured world we live in.
The story might be about the blisters, the intense heat, his swollen ankle, and the physical frailties of a middle aged man trying to do something a little extraordinary. Or maybe it’s about something more, for the real hero’s journey is travelled inside, from the brain, to the heart, to the soul. And those are the places Mark finds fascinating to explore, and that he describes with humor, wit, and pathos.