This has been a year of hibernation. Lockdown, isolate, stay home, small bubbles, no touch, furlough, essential journeys only, don’t travel too far.
I know the impact that had on my own mental health. I have seen and heard glimpses of some of the impact it has had on my colleagues, clients and loved ones. I was not made for sedentary isolation. I was made to move. I was made to connect. In some surveys up to 70% of people report that this year has impacted their metal health.
But some of what this year has brought has been a blessing. Finding support in surprising places, adapting skills for new environments. I have also been gifted with time. This did not feel like a gift when I first received it. Some of my work is quieter right now and lockdown has taught me something of rest and refresh.
But I am itching for adventure.
As restrictions were lifted in recent weeks I journeyed to Cornwall to celebrate an important family occasion. And while in Cornwall I surfed. I have spoken on this blog previously about last summer being difficult for me personally and the grief around that. Last September I wanted to surf away from my problems, to find fluidity instead of rigidity, to conquer the waves. I wonder what that 2019 surfing girl last September would have thought if anyone had told her the troubles waiting around the corner. This time around the 2020 surfing girl did not want to conquer the waves, she just wanted to be in them.
After being alone at home together for many months, my partner and I plan to holiday separately this year and I have felt rising a call to adventure.
The Camino de Santiago is a 40 day (that is my aim) pilgrimage. There are many routes but I plan to walk from Southern France all the way to where the road meets the sea in Western Spain.
It is said that The best part about the Camino is the Camino. Pilgrims do not walk for the destination(s) or for the markers along the way. We walk for ourselves.
“You are brave”
I do not go because I am brave; I know my body is stronger than I think it is and I do not fear what may pass on the passage. If I am brave then I want the bravery of the fool who will step out where others may laugh.
“On your own?!”
I go alone but I will not be alone, I take my own thoughts with me and journey alongside others who tread the same path.
“For SIX weeks!”
Yes, for six weeks. This year has gifted me some time so all I have to do is take the first step. Time is a luxury we do not often have.
I walk for myself. I walk for my body. I walk for my spirit. I take all the parts of me with me. and I leave behind unnecessary burdens (possibly including my phone).
Nature has always been healing for me. Last year I sought out the water. This year I seek out the earth.
As I prepare for this journey – outwardly packing provisions and supplies, I am also preparing inwardly.
There are bubbles of anticipation in my stomach, somewhere between excitement and apprehension. Excitement used to mean magnetically stimulated or agitated. But then apprehension never used to mean to hesitate or fear, it used to mean to seize knowledge, to grasp learning. What we think is fixed is often changeable. As I step outside of the boundaries of familiarity and routine I embrace the journey ahead.
Someone heard of my quest and shared words from this blessing with me.
May the road rise up to meet you.traditional gaelic blessing
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
I welcome these words as I prepare. But I walk knowing that sometimes the sun may scorch, the wind may buffer and the rain may come. Come what may I will walk. My guidebook tells me that to succeed is to get up one more time than you fall down.
I hope you are also finding ways to respond to your own calls to adventure, whatever they may be. I hope you are finding ways to appreciate gifts which come in unexpected ways. I hope you are making time to gift yourself experiences which are nourishing and healing for you after this very strange year.