Written April 24, 2013, at Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Spain.
There is a phrase that has periodically bubbled to the surface of my thoughts on the Camino. “Life is a journey”… “Life is a journey”… “Life is a journey”…
Why does this trouble and even annoy me. The conclusion that I reached is that Life is not a journey. Life is a destination. Living is the journey.
We all share birth and death, our personal Alpha and Omega. That is life. What distinguishes each of us is how we live our journey.
The Camino is not the act of arriving in Santiago, it is “The Way” to Santiago. One may walk 820km while listening to an audiobook, then arrive in Santiago entirely oblivious to the experience. This person has technically earned a certificate (the Compostela) for having completed the Pilgrimage, but what was gained that could not have been accomplished on a treadmill at the local gym?
Another person may have only walked the Camino for a few days, a passage insufficient for the Compostela. However, with mindful awareness of each footfall, each moment, each thought, and each breath, that person experienced a genuine pilgrimage rich in its impact both within and without. It is the journey of living and not the destination of life that matters most.
As our children grew and grandchildren grow, it has been important to me that at every parting I convey a message which is the distillation of things that I hold important. Perhaps this is my attempt at a formula for living:
“Have Fun”. Living should feed your passions and make your soul smile.
“Do Good”. There are two benedictions here: Do your best and also do what is right.
And finally: “Be Safe”, for the sake of those who love you, and also because senselessly jeopardizing your life diminishes the gift of living.
I don’t claim perfect adherence to this formula, but then I am just a Peregrino both here on the Camino, and as I live my Journey.
Have Fun, Do Good, and Be Safe. Buen Camino. Pete