“You don’t choose a life, you live a life”.
It’s what Daniel says to his father as he leaves for the Camino de Santiago in Spain in the movie The Way. I love the movie and I’ve seen it about half a dozen times over the years.
I know it’s a movie and I know some of it wasn’t filmed on the Camino, but I also know that the producer nailed it with some of the storylines. I know because I’m here on the Camino and I’m seeing it happen.
The movie revolves around the concept of a Camino family forming from 4 strangers walking. I’d heard of Camino families forming in the first few days of walking the Camino.
I’ve found that each day brings new experiences on the Camino. Each day seems to offer so much that I feel no other day will compare. And then the next day arrives and shows me that there is more the Camino needs to show me, more love I need to feel, more experiences I have the opportunity to absorb, more opportunities for me to know myself more intimately.
I left Australia on this journey not intending for a moment that I would become part of any Camino family. In fact, I was going to try to avoid it. I expected my Camino journey should be about time alone, walking in silence, pondering my life, my strengths and weaknesses and letting myself hear my soul.
And then I found myself, 12 days in to this journey, with 7 other pilgrims from all over the world in an apartment in Logrono.
I had found myself with my Camino family. The one I said I didn’t need, didn’t want. Eight of us – 3 Irish, 2 Americans, 1 Aussie, 1 Dutch and me, aged between 17 and 65 years.
We had been together for the most part of the previous 12 days and were here sharing an apartment for two nights and having a rest day.
Two pilgrims had cooked us all a wonderful meal, we were drinking a lovely Rioja wine, laughing and enjoying the experience.
The evening was a standout for me, and was topped off by the 8 of us, big fans of The Way movie, sitting together, eating popcorn and watching the film on the apartment’s TV.
Tears came readily and surprisingly for me during the movie. It wasn’t the movie so much, more the emotions that snuck up on me while watching it there, in that apartment, with my Camino family, each of us on our own journey along the way.
I cried for the effort it took to get here, for the friendships, for the passing of time, for my loved ones back home. I cried in gratitude that I could make this journey and that I was allowing the journey to provide for me. I cried at the thought of losing my Camino family as the weeks went on. I cried at the thought of the journey not being as I had expected. I cried because I was so damn happy and grateful that there seemed no other way to express my emotion.
10 days ago, these people were complete strangers. Today, they are my Camino family.
The Camino family I never wanted. And the Camino family I will soon walk away from.
And I suppose that’s the point of it all isn’t it.
Sometimes you don’t get what you want, you get what you need.
The Camino provides.
“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi