Before I left for my first Camino I let everyone know about my plans. I talked about it to many, wrote about it in my blog. During the journey itself I lived so many amazing experiences, some which I described in my journey blog (updated almost daily from the Camino), some which were too intense to share over a short blog, and some which would likely never be shared with anyone.
Some of you who have walked the Camino will understand about the later experiences. Those are the ones which, for one reason or another, seem to be best kept in our heart and our mind. Not because they are secretive or relate to something negative, but because they are too difficult to explain clearly.
I knew that upon my return, most of those who knew of my journey would be wanting to hear all about my trip. I was touched that so many wanted to know details, but I was perplexed at times at the type of questions people asked. Many seemed very focused on the distance and wanted to know how many kilometers I walked each day. Some wanted to know how much my journey had cost, how many times I had to share a dorm or bathroom with men, how the food was and whether Spaniards really closed business for siesta.
Some asked a bit more personal questions such as:
Did you ever feel like quitting?
Did you miss your bed?
Did you get tired of the snoring?
Did you have to pee outside?
These are all valid questions and I answered each and every one.
Truthfully, this was not what I wanted to share with people. I felt those types of questions were about details that seemed somewhat irrelevant to my overall experience. My first internal need was to share the beauty of the journey, the joy of walking alone and hearing birds sing, sheep bleat and water trickle from the fountains. I wanted to share the closeness I felt after talking to another pilgrim for hours on end and the caring of someone who helped me out when I needed support. I wanted to share my amazement when memories from decades past came rushing to mind and my calm gratefulness after attending mass in the evenings.
I realized that what I felt important to share often didn’t correlate to what those who were listening wanted to hear. I recognized that the depth, the richness and the mystique of the Camino didn’t really render itself to casual conversation. Those conversations were meant for those who had already experienced the Camino, or those who felt comfortable discussing the deep personal side of my journey.
I’ve come to terms with this, and I’ve stopped trying to describe a Camino sunrise while my listener’s eyes glazed over. I know now that many of our Camino experiences will never mean as much to most as they do to those who have experienced the Camino. I value the interest people had and still have in my journey, but I now understand the need to tailor my discussions.
Some things are better left on the Camino, in our hearts and in our minds.
SylviePilgrim Sylvie Hanes
Completed first Camino in 2011