‘Wonder is the beginning of wisdom’ ~ Socrates
One night along the camino I lay uncomfortably zipped up tightly in my bed bug sheet writing and editing a blog post on my iPhone (day 6 of what would become 28 daily adventure posts). It was midnight and I knew those bugs were going to bite, we had made a dodgy accommodation choice (although frankly bugs are a part of the camino). I’d also been gifted a full blown grunting snorer less than a metre to my right! More importantly I had committed myself to prioritising my commitment to writing and to sharing my #hikeforOneGirl with daily discipline and routine, as uncomfortable as I was, I was rising to that challenge. That night, I believe will prove to be a turning point for me. One where hardship (I appreciate the mildness of how this hardship sounds) proved to me that it’s in difficulty and in sitting beyond the edge of my comfort zone that I will find the well of deeper wonder. A blessing and a curse.
Spotting wonder comes easier since making the decision to be present in my life, in today. Honestly, once I began noticing and feeling the seasons, the smiles, smelling the fresh air, hearing the birds, the music, the peace, touching this idea that I had something to create and tasting the deliciousness of connection and kindness I began to crave and share it like a drug. I also started realising how small I am in this big world and how all the things I thought I knew actually don’t really amount to much. That is a bit confronting really! To be mid 40’s and realise that often you’re wrong and have a lot to learn about life, people and basically every discipline that exists. The blessing is that my sense of curiosity WOKE up. It is a curse because now I know that I want to know more and the only way towards that is to create the space to experience it by consuming less. Which means asking myself questions. Hearing less of the noise the world spits out and less of the bullshit that I feed myself to hide away. It is an act of courage to walk a camino. And I mean camino in the broad sense – a camino is any long walk you take, any path towards change.
Something amazing happened when I wrote each day. Aside from the incredible awesomeness of 27 girls in Africa getting an education there was a swell of momentum in my life. A deeper kind of wonder – one that existed because I was part of something bigger. A whirlwind of kindness from people old and new, landscapes of mountains and valleys, vineyards and olive groves, fields and flowers, horizons and big skies, cities filled with stories and whispers from wandering folk and of courageous exploration. That swell translated into quite an adventure. The kind of free spirited wonder and courageous purpose that is hard to maintain in every day life. But of course I must because every day life is where I live and love.
Continually sitting beyond my comfort zone and comfortable in discomfort with purpose is harder to commit to when life is back to ‘normal’. And ‘normal’ I say loosely because I’m not sure what that really looks like for us yet. But back to creating the wonder and courageous purpose, surely it’s doable, maybe just with different goal posts. Obviously there is the less horizons thing (one does give less shits about things when feeling the freedom of the wild) and there is so much more of the bullshit (the privileged complaining, the competitive bossy how to be and how it is kind of stuff). Unlike the camino you can’t just walk to the next city every day to give yourself the space! Do you know what I mean about the bullshit though? The seemingly endless diatribe of small stuff and small talk. Sure, we can escape some of it selectively but it’s impossible to block it all. There are those accounts that are tricky to unfollow and there are the realities that we need to face like our work places and schools etc. I am shifting my eyes and ears towards noticing and hearing with even more filters than normal in an attempt to be more focussed and less in need of de-fragging from the dreaded you know what. That bullshit! Ps I am more than capable of talking my own bullshit to myself and trust me that is under the microscope too, even more so. And of course what I call bullshit may be different to what you call BS. If I’ve become BS to you please unfollow, I respect BS calling. We all need to call what we don’t need.
I’m comfortable out of the spotlight, hiding behind the pole at school pick up. Please don’t invite me to everything and I’m fine not knowing the ins and outs of things, happier that way, it’s easier. What? You liked, read my words? I might just seize up and run. I need a new blog please, people I know are following along. Yes I want to live a full life and trust me I feel I do, but I want to do it in a small way. Well at least I thought I did. And then you see I walked the camino with the knowledge that I had to challenge myself. I had to challenge the lack of commitment, trust and discipline that I give to myself and my capabilities. Sure, I am confident in a lot of things, opinionated about many other things and great at making new things happen BUT eventually I always run. Maybe out of fear. I’m not sure why yet but I do know I need to shift my goalposts to adjust what quiet, small, confidence and fear are and how they fit in my life.
Gosh how I hated the cliché on the camino that your ‘camino begins when it ends’. Typical of my rebel heart. I will not do or be like everyone else. Kill me first. I’m on the camino now … I was on it before I left. Heaven forbid I might actually need to stop being scared of myself, or, worse still be wrong, or oh man – exactly like everyone else and it just may start when it ends. On day two along the camino in a conversation with Mike from the UK we were talking about what we’d thought about that day while we were walking – they were the same things (our profound thoughts and our wonderings were essentially the very same). Most of us think and worry about the same things. Of course we act on and express those thoughts differently but we are all feeling our way through life and we are not alone in that.
What brought this on? Lots of things and nothing, it just is. At the heart of it – I have changed since walking the camino. So basically I have no choice. I’m at the bloody beginning again, facing new questions. This time I don’t want to run, I’m stronger. We always get stronger after a climb into our weaknesses don’t we. I want to build on this, to continue creating without the fear or expectation. Time to dip my toes in deeper and step into the vulnerability I am feeling, however that looks.
I may have eaten too many mm’s and stayed up far too last night (and the night before) but I’m not going to give up on forward motion today because I did that (stepped a few steps back). No, I am writing this because discipline with writing helps me to step forward and it only happens if I lift my feet and move towards writing. My friend Lix tells me my writing is my poetry. After hitting publish I will go for a walk in the woods because walking soothes my mind when it’s in dreaming, examining or planning mode (I’m in all three right now – jackpot). Experience has taught me that’s where most of my answers are … out there wandering in solitude where the birds sing and the trees rustle.
The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~ Plato.
Should I give you another camino’ism? When you’re busy walking, creating or out there contributing with the intention of giving and sharing you’re too busy to care what people think of what you’ve published or the life you are choosing. There is only time to focus on the connection that comes as a response to being in your own flow. The joy comes from the writing and publishing … in doing the work (creating).
There are many things I wanted to write about today: the missing update from my time in Finisterra where I hit my greatest challenge … that first moment where I sat still again and had to consider my next move. Would I give in to idleness or step up? Idleness, where we sit or stand consuming bullshit from others, pushing into what doesn’t feel right, or, in the stories we create in our own minds or sometimes simply by allowing ourselves to be consumed by unfulfilling tasks is the great enemy to living a creative and meaningful life. Not that I know that for sure but today that is what’s in my mind, maybe sometimes it’s in yours?
It was this thought, this lesson, the wisdom that I’ve gleaned from Mike and a host of you who read my words and write to me that have propelled me towards facing one of my personal challenges. This new beginning where I need to practice a commitment towards self discipline and accountability to myself as I continue to step beyond my comfort zone – this time not to run. So I guess I owe you a thank you, thank you ;).