There is one thing John Muir, the American Naturalist said that has stuck with me always since finishing my first Camino de Santiago.
Muir is quoted as saying that if you take a walk in the woods for something like a few days or even a week or so you are but, enjoying what can only be described as the dessert part of the meal.
To be truly immersed not only in nature but, in your self being, as a human being you need to get out and be gone for at least twenty one (21) days.
Now why is the number twenty-one (21) the magic number?
I looked it up and among a few answers found that twenty one also represents selflessness; concern for others more than for oneself.
To come back whole again from a Camino, a certain number of days need to pass just as the correct number of days passed that healed our mind, bodies and soul on the Camino.
This is obviously not a one size fits all answer but, it’s my best answer after my first day home again after forty-four days gone. Time simply has to pass.
In our busy daily lives we often neglect walking, an evolved function of the human race. When we jump start our training for the Camino we start walking again. This process begins to make us whole again.
Next we add the planning and the buying and testing for what will one day in the future work for us.
This backpack that we wear on the Camino is a way for us to begin to uncomplicate our lives. Everything we believe we can live with is in that pack we carry. For many unfortunately their lives are much too complicated and so they start the Camino with a heavy pack load. Time teaches many and those that learn the valuable lessons are rewarded with lighter packs.
Finally add the unknowns like the great wholesome food, and social aspects of possibly sharing the experience with a Camino family of pelegrinos. Top off your pack with a Camino flag, patch, shell or anything else on our backpack that truly distinguishes us from a mere backpacker – you are now a pelegrino!
I now ask myself – safe and secure in my lovely home with no one else around. What do I now feel? Is it emptiness? Feeling lost, overwhelmed, or joy, a sense of great accomplishment or what?
I know there is something but, I don’t quite have a firm handle on it yet.
Recalling the exact moment I stopped being a pilgrim (a pelegrino) was a real shocker. Right after receiving my Compostela in Santiago.
But, then something magical happened the following day.
Rather than remain in Santiago for a second day I downloaded the route extension to Fisterra (Finisterre) on my Buen Camino app and then I cancelled my booking.com hotel room and just like that I was totally back – and as a pilgrim, this time on my way to Finisterre.
Being retired sort of has the same effect. I do however, feel for those that don’t have the ability to go beyond that magical number of twenty one (21) days for their Camiño. My magic number. For you it may be different.
Just know that if that emptiness feeling post Camino finds its way to you- restart that planning process sooner rather than later for that new adventure and that emptiness should soon start to fade away.
And that my friends is my day one home reflections.
The ability of a photo to communicate with the viewer I am told represents a great photograph
And now a few random pictures to share.
Prior to taking this picture a great downpour.
Yes, the Camino road was just as rough as it looks in both pictures.
The guy in the first photo is Stewart from the UK. He always wore a light blue Panama hat, every day adorned with a fresh flower he picked fresh from the camino.
And why not. Rarely does one back home slow down enough these days with the crowds all around to really enjoy a good cup of cafe con leche.
The fact that carrying a camino sized pack for the past 15 miles possibly tended to make the drink and the memories that much more memorable.
Special thanks to the photographer for this great picture of me.
Buen Camino always,