My time is fast approaching. Tonight I am in Samos, 130 km before Santiago de Compostela. Despite the rain—the one constant feature of rugged, green Galicia—I will probably be there within the next week. When I first started the Camino from Vezelay, on August 18, the end was simply too far away to envision, like the Sahara to an Eskimo.
The closer I get to Santiago, the less I seem to walk each day. Yesterday I covered only 9 km to O Cebreio—that after a grueling 30 km through a much less-traveled alternative route that climbed three small mountains, but for someone who has already gone nearly 1,000 miles on foot, nothing fazes me anymore.
Maybe I should reconsider that statement: the purely physical demands of the Camino de Santiago have long ago fallen away. It is the mental aspect which I struggle with, especially as I grow closer to the day when I wake up and realize I have nowhere to walk to. Part of me thinks I will lock myself in a hotel for a week, relishing the sterilized solitude, the lack of needing to reach the next stage, the complete void of human contact. On the other side of things, I wonder if I will start going for extremely long walks, unable to shake the nomadic way of life.
When I take my last step and cross the threshold of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, I will have completed a journey that literally eclipsed one thousand miles. as Lao Tzu famously said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and as such it must end with one. After days of suffering, of pondering, of asking questions and receiving answers, I think it is fitting that I close the circle with the simplest of gestures. The last step I take on the Camino de Santiago carries the crushing weight of a thousand miles behind it, but it also contains a feather-light multitude of wisdom gained from those same miles walked. Maybe afterwards, when I lock myself away from humanity for a while, or pace through the waning November light in Dublin (spoiler alert) for hours on end, will I have the means and the will to put these answers together into something coherent. For now, I still have the road at my feet, and many steps to go.
First time reading my blog? Click here. And don’t forget to subscribe!