Monday, February 4, 2013

The journey starts today

How it happened, I am not sure, but somewhere around Christmas I had suddenly made a decision: This summer I will walk the last part of the camino to Santiago de Compostela. With the last part, I mean the 800 kilometres from Saint Jean Pied de Port. People that have known me for a while are seriously flabbergasted. Am I, Amis Boersma, telling them I will go walking for a month? Yes, I certainly am. "What is the matter with you?" a friend recently asked me after I told her about this plan and these esoteric explorations of mine.

Well, one of the answers to this questions could be that I don't know perseverance. The word just does not appear in my dictionary. I have never learned to persist, especially when things get hard. I have never understood why you would continue to climb to the top of a mountain, when you're already exhausted halfway. On hikes, I could always easily just turn around and go back down. When I was meditating at a Buddhist monastery in Indonesia last year, I realised how my mind objects to physical pain and how quickly it seeks a way out. I began to see the relationship between physical power (and pain) and the power of the mind. Hence, this plan to go walking. 

Of course this particular pilgrimage always spoke to my imagination. Last year, the Belgian television aired a great show interviewing people on their (often spiritual) journeys. Some of my friends have walked the camino several times and have told me all about their experiences. They are advising, coaching and guiding me now (yeah!). And, as my friend Luis told me a month ago: my journey starts today.

So, I have already bought myself a pair of (ugly) super-shoes and have started training right here in Holland. I will be taking you along on my journey the coming months. These are my first steps. Hooray!

Several people have told me about 'The way', a movie by Emilio Estevez, in which his father (both in real life and in the movie), my favourite actor, Martin Sheen (whom we should all know as Josiah Bartlet in West Wing) walks the camino. This was never his intention, but he ends up finishing the walk his son started and spreading his son's ashes out along the way. I watched this movie just now and it makes me want to start the walk right away!

A funny (albeit cliche) element in the movie is the pot-smoking, drugs dealing, loud and blunt Dutch guy 'Joost from Amsterdam', who ends up being a sweetheart (of course).

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