old notebook life is curiosity kept alive
The Road to Santiago is a spiritual path. It was originally a Catholic pilgrimage for sinners who were trying to work off any time they might have to spend in Purgatory before they could go to heaven. It’s a 500-mile trail that runs across northern Spain from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela.
I first came across the Road to Santiago through reading Robert Twigger’s book On Being a Man in the Lousy Modern World. In the book, he talks about the death of action versus unisex blandness, where style is more important than substance, and how we look is more important than what we do.
I later came across the Road to Santiago through Paulo Coelho’s book, The Pilgrimage, which is his account of the Great Walk. He walked the Road to find something he had lost. I wanted to walk the road to see what I could find. I was going through a serious low point in my life. I felt on the verge of falling apart.
I needed to believe the Road to Santiago would help me find what was missing in my life. On the surface, I didn’t seem to lack anything. I was living the American Dream: wife, children, a nice house, and a good job. But something was gnawing at me from the inside.
On the Road to Santiago, I hoped I could find what was missing. Of course, it’s kind of hard to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for in the first place. Every epic journey must have a goal the explorer is seeking. Since I did not know what I was looking for, I set myself some sub-goals to give the journey some meaning. So on the Road to Santiago, I set out to do something I had never done before, which was to walk 500 miles as part of a single venture. I also wanted to meet other pilgrims and find out what they were seeking on the Road.
A month before I set out to walk the Road, I told a friend of mine that I didn’t know what I would find on the Road to Santiago, and he said, “I suspect that on the Road to Santiago, you will find Santiago. It’s what you’ll bring back that intrigues me.”
When I relaxed into the profoundness of his words, the Road suddenly took on a new meaning for me. Instead of walking the Road as a frustrated man who didn’t know what he was looking for, I would walk the Road as an explorer, open to whatever I might find.
What I brought back came in the form of an epiphany:
Open your eyes to the joy and wonder all around you, and appreciate the little things in life.
We can make life more complicated than it needs to be. And I’ll confess now, I have done my fair share of complicating life, making it into a great big tangled melodrama when it doesn’t have to be.
morning breeze inside the stillness brings peace1