Walking Across Spain To Make My Life Bigger. (7 minute read)
In approximately eight weeks I’ll be setting out on an 800 km (500 miles) walk across northern Spain. I’m planning for my solo journey to take me between 5-7 weeks and I hope to check out Madrid and Barcelona while I am there. I’ll be walking with everything I will need—in a pack on my back. I’m Celiac, dairy and FODMAP intolerant so the journey might get a bit challenging for me but I’m up for it! Even though there will be many others on this journey, I will be walking it mainly by myself. I will meet companions along the way but my journey on the Camino will be my own.
For over a century, hundreds of thousands of Pilgrims have taken the journey to Camino de Santiago in search of changing something about themselves. To find something that’s missing in their lives or to help them find their truth. Many see it as a religious quest as the pilgrimage is rooted deep in Christian history.
I’m walking so I can make my life bigger.
I believe we’re all part of the expansion of the Universe. In fact, we are the reason the Universe expands and it cannot do so without us. Many of us don’t understand that by every thought, action, word and deed, we are contributing to the eternity that we all depend on. We’re the creators of our experiences. As we grow and learn and widen our view, the Universe also extends and expands in capacity to whatever we are inventing, realizing, experiencing, building, creating, observing, and so on. We are a part of all-that-is and our contribution is necessary and vital..
Ok. So that’s getting a little deep but knowing this helps me understand my part in the evolution of humanity. Of being an important component in something extraordinary.
I’ve always had an adventurous spirit. When I was a young girl I had dreams of being a National Geographic photographer or a professional dancer. Letting my vocation take me to exotic and far off places like New York City or Africa. I didn’t desire the white-picket fence, two-car garage, or 1.5 kids. Nope – not me. Give me exploration and the opportunity to see the world. I wanted to go everywhere, experience everything.
I wanted a bigger life.
Of course my life didn’t go as I had planned (does anyones?) and I ended up on a different type of adventure. The adventures of my life with Klink. Our first 13 years together was crazy-fun and full of life and laughter. We planned our future together, built businesses, traveled, and enjoyed each other’s souls. I relished this life with a two-car-garage, house-in-the-burbs, and settled into a beautiful, happy, and exciting (albeit more conventional) existence. Life was safe and comfortable and I needed that on so many levels. But our last 10 years was a different sort of adventure; a rollercoaster ride of chaos, crisis and emotions dealing with life threatening situations, multiple cancers and illnesses. And the radical acceptance of the loss of our future.
Most people would describe an adventure as something thrilling and exciting they plan for. Yet by definition, the word actually means a risky or unexpected undertaking. I would say then, that the word adventure accurately describes our 23 years together. Klink was 19 years older than me (I was 27, he was 46 when we met) and we knew from day one that the odds were I would outlive him. We both believed it made our bond stronger and we accepted our fate together. However, neither of us could predict he would suffer for so long in the process.
So in a round-a-bout way the Universe gave me exactly what I had wanted.
It gave me the adventures—not of far-off places and exotic locales—but of experiences of unconditional love, acceptance, joy, loss, and suffering. It gave me the wisdom of understanding the rawness of life. It showed me through these experiential realities that living a bigger life comes in many shapes and forms. And that this time together with him would help me discover my own truth. No doubt, the things I experienced during the chaos were hard, risky and unexpected, but they were a simultaneous gift as well. They helped me to clarify who I was and what I wanted for my current life with him. And for the life I would be living after he was gone.
I’m grateful that I understood this while he was still alive.
By the time cancer #3 barged into our lives, I had found many solitary ways of breaking away from the chaos including yoga and meditation. Another, was escaping with a movie called The Way; a story of a father, who’s son had lost his life on the Camino de Santiago. The father completes the journey in grief and homage to the son, bringing along his ashes to scatter in the sea at the end. (I am not going to lie to you, I’ve watched this movie over 50 times in the last 8 years). The other escape was being obsessed with researching Teardrop Trailers and planning a road trip across the United States along Route 66. I would end in Oceanside California where Klink had special ties after Vietnam. In both scenarios I would be bringing Klink’s ashes with me—and as I like to say— dropping him off at the beach.
Both Klink and I knew cancer #3 was the beginning of the end. When the days were dark, I held tight to the vision of walking The Camino—always knowing I would be doing it alone. Only ever wanting to do it alone. He never knew of my desire to do this, it was my own secret dream. Something I clung on to dearly and only shared with my very close friends. For 10 years making any type of plans was an impossible thing to do and this was my way of escaping the situation if only for a few moments. I didn’t have to worry about cancelling, I could envision my journey in my head and take notes for the future. I felt as if I could make plans for something that was tangible even though I had no idea when it would happen.
The only thing I knew for certain is that it would happen after Klink had died.
18 months have passed by now and I feel as if I am somewhat stuck in my grief by staying where I am. I still live in, and love, the beautiful house we lived in together. I mow the lawn and take care of the gardens. I watch the sunrise from the deck, the sunset from the porch. I’ve repainted and refreshed the interior, downsized my belongings, simplified my life, and finished all of the house projects I set out to do. I spend my days working on my business, my evenings with a glass of wine and my research of the Camino. I go to yoga 4 days a week, walk 4 days a week, put the umbrellas up in the morning…take the umbrellas down in the evening.
My world has become monotonous and boring and I am restless.
They say people walk the Camino to find their truth, yet I feel as if I’ve already done this work. I found my truth with Klink. He gave me the world, adored me, and allowed me to become the person I always knew I could be. I owe him for everything that I am today and the only way I can honor him—is to go live an amazing life. If I didn’t go, if I didn’t experience, if I didn’t explore, if I didn’t LIVE A BIGGER LIFE, I feel it would extinguish everything we had and everything he did for me. Sounds like it’s right out of an old Daniel Steele romance novel or fairytale doesn’t it. Well, maybe it is. The hero dies and she emerges from the ashes becoming the heroine of her own, brand new story.
Sound’s about right.
I now understand that wanting to live a bigger life was never about the places I would go, it was about the experiences I would have. I will have. It’s about the feelings, emotions, and dynamics of living something new, experiencing something different and witnessing something incredible. I had all of that with Klink during the easy and the hard times. Sometimes, the most impactful moments were on the most difficult days and that’s when I could really feel my soul expand, my life becoming bigger. Most of us run away from hard situations and difficult conversations, but I found I grew the most because of them.
I’m in search of these compelling experiences again, but in a much less tragic way.
I’m walking because I want to be outside of my comfort zone again. I am finding that a calm and peaceful life is not for me, although it is exactly what I needed for the past year to heal and strengthen myself. But this time, instead of chaos and confusion, I am choosing joy, wonder, and excitement. I want to broaden my perspective of humanity and to challenge my body and my spirit. I am feeling restless because I am ready to experience something new and exciting that puts me off my balance—so I can test my truth. Test who I’ve become. Show myself that the lessons and experiences I had with Klink really did change me. That what we went through for all of those years contributed something incredible to the grand scheme of things. It would be easy to stay within my current (and comfortable) lifestyle and believe that I have grown and expanded but it would be something else entirely to go off into the unknown and actually show myself that I have. It is because of him that I have the opportunity to create a bigger life for myself and I am not about to waste this precious gift.
My hope is that this journey changes me so much, that it’s only obvious I can’t go back to my current way of life.
So instead of saying my life is monotonous and boring, I’ll say that I’m in a state of becoming. A state of expectation and of hope. Maybe it’s not restlessness that I am feeling but the excitement and anticipation of showing myself who I am truly capable of being.
** UPDATE** Camino is cancelled!
Breathe Deep & Live Well—