This week as I prepared to leave for my pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, a little package arrived in the mail from a dear friend. In it was a silver necklace inscribed with the word journey.
I was delighted because I love pleasant surprises; touched because this kind friend has suffered greatly over the past few weeks, yet she took time to think of me; and inspired because of what the pendant represents.
A journey feels different than a trip, at least it does to me. While a trip gets you from point A to point B, a journey implies detours and adventures along the way. Journey is also a verb. A person can journey–intentionally going somewhere. It’s true, a person can also trip, but this is most associated with falling or getting high on psychedelics. I prefer to journey.
This journey of mine feels different than other travel I’ve done. Partly because it involves a backpack, partly because I’ve trained for a couple of months, and partly because I don’t know what to expect. But then again, do we really ever know what to expect in a given moment? We don’t, of course, but we often behave as though we do. We attach our thoughts to what we don’t want and hold tightly to a precise picture of what we do. And in doing so, we miss the magic of the now.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the now and what it means to my whole life, not just this upcoming journey. How the hours I’ve spent rehashing the past and worrying about the future have caused me much suffering. How simply noticing myself breathing in and out in the present moment can bring me peace. How choosing the now is simple, yet not easy.
It is a choice, though. Notwithstanding that it takes work, and we may need help (sometimes lots of it), we can choose the now. We simply decide to let go of victimhood and fully be with whatever life has to offer now. For me, that choice will need to be made over and over again–until I break my old thought habits. I’m willing to be patient with myself.
At this moment, I am deeply grateful to enjoy the privilege that allows me to experience a Camino journey. I’m thankful for so many thoughtful friends and family who have wished me well. Some of you have asked me about my worries and my hopes for the road to Santiago. If I’ve given you an answer, scratch it, here is my new one.
I’m making a journey of the heart, attempting to sit in the center of my being, attaching neither to fear nor to expectation. I’m certain I will have my off moments, but my prayer is to meet the truth of the now with openness and curiosity. And I plan to pack this attitude in my suitcase and bring it home with me.
Whatever your journey is, I wish you the same.