Life Goes On
July 14, 2014
We leave Muxia tomorrow. After having spent the last week here, relaxing on the empty beaches, having 3 hour naps, going to bed late ( due to watching the World Cup games that don’t start in Spain until 10pm) and sleeping in even later than my 5 am get up time, we leave the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage with many thoughts, experiences and memories.
We leave with tan/ sunburnt skin, bleached hair, smelly clothes, dirt encrusted shoes, bug bites on our bodies, hairy arm pits and legs (we vouched we wouldn’t shave until we arrived home), less weight on our bodies and in our backpacks than what we started with. Less weighty thoughts in our hearts and in our heads. I can speak to this subject directly. My body and spirit are rejuvenated. Not filled with dead weight. I have learned a new slogan to live by; “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” I have renewed hope to let things go. Just let go…let go of stress, of material stuff, of job issues…let them go, cut the strings and focus on the here and now instead of the past and the future. Live life to its fullest in the Now State of Being ( my own term).
And impart the things I have learned onto my children. They are all adults now in their 20’s. I can now be their friend and not the parent full of weighted advise. They are independent, critical thinkers who are in full charge of being responsible for their choices. I am on the sideline, cheering them on and am no longer the coach directing the plays.
I am a firm believer in traveling outside one’s own comfort zone and expose yourself to other cultures, countries, thoughts, ideas, experiences. All those years of classes I took in Sociology, Anthropology, Human Development, Psychology…all that book learning, would be for naught, if I don’t put it into practice. You can be the couch traveler. The travel book learner. The college course expert, but until you get off your butt and put yourself out there in the world, all your book smarts are just random thoughts and theories that are waiting to be put into practice.
I have found out that stereotypes and generalizations are in place for a reason. It isn’t a negative or a bad thing either. We all have our own societal norms, values, morals, traditions that we have been raised with. We have our own culture norms that are ingrained based on where we have been raised. There are plenty of things that we do that are typical to one’s culture. How we talk, interact, show respect, eat, sleep, clean…we are all different and yet in the culture that we have been raised with in the country, town, village that we reside in, there are similarities that we share with our own “tribe.”
The only way you discover this is by traveling and interacting with others on an intimate level, not as a tourist drive-by superficial top layer. And as frustrating as it has been sleeping in rooms with mass amounts of people from different countries who have different ways of living and doing things from myself, I can say that it has been a great experience in human observation. I have found that what I was raised with, the things I believe to be the norm in doing things, is not the same for others. I can not place my norms onto others, anymore than they can do the same with theirs. Being aware that there are differences, which doesn’t make it wrong ( as in stripping in front of others, picking of the nose in public, belching freely, sleeping with the windows shut…) but acknowledging that they exist just like the similarities and common ground that we share with our fellow human beings.
This can’t be discovered until one goes through it first hand. Oh yes…reading about the social norms in multi- cultural classes provides insight, but until one experiences it first hand, than one hasn’t lived it.
And so life goes on after the Camino, but with it comes a greater sense of insight and a peace and a calm and the desire to do more and to be a better human being.