Here in Porto, Portugal, I´m sitting in a beautiful hostel, a real hostel this time, that has won many prizes. It´s in a renovated townhouse in the center of old Porto: high French windows in each room, billowing white curtains, views of the port and river. I am in a woman´s dorm of six, and am about to go upstairs to a breakfast, up the old wooden stairs to the rooftop kitchen area. Once again, I feel like I am borne along on some gentle river of right place, right time. And there´s a computer that seems to work.
I left things behind, and lost things, on this trip. Let´s start with the physical. That pack is your home, and when things are lost or stolen, the shock is disproportionate. I lost three items, probably because I left them behind~~ sarong, prescription sunglasses, and a pair of underwear.
This whole trip I have been experimenting with flow. I decided that when things went wrong, that was a signal to stop and do something else, in other words, to actually change something. I think it was Einstein that said you can´t solve problems on the level they were created, but have to step outside them to another place. This loss of items sounds laughable when I list it, but these losses caused my stomach to lurch. In the damp weather, having only two pairs of underwear left me no margin of error for drying them. The sarong was my security item~~ scarf, pillowcase, bedcover, blanket, modesty while changing, and a curtain for my bunk if I wanted privacy. Oh, and it was my towel too. And sunglasses.
When I encountered bad events, feelings, and bad days, I had the time to do a few existential experiments. My idea was that if things were going wrong, or I was freaked out, I could change my ideas and plans to something that felt better. This sounds so simple, but often in life we are bent on a course. If you have an awful work day, you stay at work and tough it out. But I didn´t have to do that here.
So when I lost things, or became fearful of hiking alone in the green, dripping Galician woods, I could read these as gentle nudges to change plans. It worked well. When I got an infected blister, it gave me two days in a hotel room to reconsider how I approached the walk. I think one reason my walk was so wonderful is that I let painful signs actually give me a message to change, and I could act on them.
I also had some bad dreams on the Camino. I think that we brush through layers of religion, history, blood and war when we walk through these places. The cathedrals are full of blood, bones, skulls, body parts, and monsters, the gargoyles. When you start to align yourself with the good, I think the shadow can be activated. I am used to this. I often have bad dreams when I start innovative creative projects. When you step outside your comfort zone, your subconcious mind knows it. There is often a kickback, like firing a gun. I believe all dreams are meant to help us, and are messages, so I don´t worry as much about uncomfortable dreams as I used to.
The Camino is a metaphor. How wonderful to leave things behind! I could leave the dream in a church, or at a tree, or in a cafe, and hike on. All of life is a process of leaving things behind. We can read that as loss, or a new chance. I did my final
leaving behind of deep things at the alter of St. James. I left behind the same things the ancients did: old wounds and sins and temptations, atonement. I feel like I literally left them behind for the saint, or history, or nature, or God, to return to the cycle of the universe. We leave things behind and face the new day freer.
By the way, after I started this post, I found my blue sarong in a ball in the bottom of my pack! My friend returned! Ah, synchronicity. Go figure.