31 July 2009

I have just finished reading another Camino book, “What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim”, by Jane Christmas. She tells the story of setting out on the Camino in a pack of 14 squabbling women and, based on that alone, I was prepared to not like it. I was in for a surprise. It was well-written, funny and, once she has gotten free of the burden of the covey of women, was quite philosophical. Her experiences, though, were very different from mine. At one point, she writes “You constantly think about quitting and going home. That single issue gets debated and rehashed by every pilgrim.” And the back cover says that “… she battles loneliness, hunger and exhaustion”. I didn’t have the same experiences at all, although I am not disputing hers. I intended to walk alone and did so for a large portion of my journey. I never thought about quitting and going home and I never heard any discussion about that topic in the many albergues where I overnighted. I was never lonely or hungry. I was by times exhausted, but that passed after a short rest. I think that each of us views the camino through our own emotional filters and I think that the differences in the experiences that Christmas had to those that I had are attributable at least partially to those filters. She is twice-divorced and a single woman. I have never divorced and have been happily married for over 50 years, just to mention one of the more potent filters. Reading her book reminds me, once again, not to make judgments based on incomplete knowledge or other’s hearsay. Another of life’s lessons relearned.

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