“My friend, Kike, your memory always comes into my mind connected with a walking stick and a backpack. Six months have already passed since our encounter! I shall try to remember… I arrived in Sahagún sore and disheartened after a hard day and I looked for shelter in the monastery of Santa Cruz. My experience of the previous days pedalling from Madrid was beautiful, but my knees hurt me so much that they were annoying me. I had to do the last kilometers on foot and limping. There we met a Canadian woman who had slipped over and had a big fall.
I had left home five days earlier after spending a year toying with the idea of venturing to make the Way, or not. What took me to it in the end? The need to give myself some time to find myself, to feel myself free to travel at the rhythm I feel like, to sit on a rock to watch the day pass, to feel myself alive and to open myself to an experience that I fancied would be unpredictable. Something like an act of surrendering to life, beyond the control which I usually try to exert almost all the time.
I am not so good at speaking about my health situation. I might be afraid of losing my place among “normal people” and being seen only from my condition of “sick person”. I do not feel as such (possibly neither “normal” nor “ill”– ha, ha, ha…) For more than four years I have been aware of my brain tumour. It came in a difficult, vital moment and the diagnosis came to me as a real shock.
I was disappointed with work, unhappy with my relationship, disenchanted with life, and resigned to everything continuing on more or less the same. My first reading of the news was something like this: “When one retires from life, the body is going to be in charge of abandoning it little by little …” and put me in the need of choosing. I chose living and took the experience as an apprenticeship and my tumour as a teacher.
I often ask it about which way I should take as if it were a compass, making an effort to be less self-persecuting and focusing myself instead on what I look forward to and enjoy. Here we are, my tumour and I, trying to apply the same recipe although sometimes it turns out complicated. Some time ago a good friend of mine told me that the adult’s freedom is a conditional freedom. I do not know if it is really like this, but the fact is that I live trying to get a balance between those determinants and my wish to act freely, following my impulses and doing the least possible of what I do not feel like doing.
Every summer since that June of 2010 I have considered if I shall be able to enjoy the following year in the same physical condition, so I did not want to
delay my trip to Santiago any longer. I went there with my bicycle, carrying a lot of stuff at the beginning until I innocently ‘lost’ many things along the way leaving me with a more manageable luggage. Tears sprang to my eyes very often when I was going about by myself, which was most of the time. I cried emotionally in the company of the sun and the wind, the horizon and the immense sky of Castilla, which were always present.
It is wonderful to move on by oneself. Thank you, Legs; thank you, Lungs; thank you, Heart; thank you, Brain; thank you, thank you, thank you…
Why on earth have I taken the bicycle and left for Santiago? Perhaps simply because I could. I love enjoying now all that I can do, as simple as it might be – I hope it lasts a lot longer. In the future, I do not want to regret that I did not enjoy doing those things now that for me are important.
What a complex and wonderful machine the body is! I try to live paying more attention to it, offering it more affection, although sometimes I do not succeed. I think that it is an apprenticeship that will take me all my life. Apart from the moments of solitude, the encounters with others were fundamental on my way. When I try to resist letting go of things, when I am frightened of making the wrong decision about matters that imply losses, I always remember your story. I tell a lie. The first thing I remember is your smile and your happy voice, your affectionate look…we walked together for a long while, together with Alvaro, sharing things about our lives. I liked meeting up with you again later that day after having said goodbye to each other in the morning after our fleeting meeting at breakfast. Alvaro and I had stopped our bikes and got off when we saw you coming and the three of us adapted our pace. It might seem that walking sometimes helps to dynamize the chat and we talked about a lot of things in a short time. About searching, about relationships, about our pasts, about our life plans… they were easy and honest moments that continued over that rather large little offering that we gave ourselves to eat, where we carried on with our conversation always telling it like it is.
We enjoyed a simple meal that tasted heavenly. I commented about our encounter with some other people afterwards: “I met a man who had practically everything that you can get with money and lost it. He spent years locked up for being a swindler and now he is walking with all he needs in a backpack and in love with life.” You have all my love, admiration and respect. The generosity with which you shared, telling about your process, impressed me deeply, and is an experience that I think everybody can learn from. To see you enjoying walking as a child every day, cooking for yourself on your small camping stove and sleeping on the modest bunks at the Way hostels, surrounded by snores, all that moved me a lot considering where you had come from. You are finally enjoying your life of freedom. Released from your old “you” and without any limit to your movement.
I am carrying on with my photography studies, postponed from my childhood, and I continue living with that girl I told you about, with whom I decided to live for the first time when I was forty years of age. Things are going along well for me. We live with our attention focused on the present and building up from what we have. She bets on me and I bet on her, although her bet is clearly riskier than mine. I am lucky. Next year I would like to launch forth again on the Way, but this time less hurried. I am sure that it will bring me different things and be just as interesting. For me it is like consulting the oracle or reading the tea leaves. I surrender myself to the experience and it tells me things…things that hurt me, that I wish for, that worry me, that put me in contact with what I really feel to be important. I want to enjoy day by day, without anticipating things, and with an open heart that lets me share and encourages me to learn.
I wish you all good things, Adventure Mate.
See you soon.
A big hug,