Camino de Santiago: Life-draining Straightaways

I can see my destination. I’m almost there. It’s so close I can almost taste the Pilgrim menu waiting for me. A nap is near. How is the town still that far away? Am I walking in place? Am I seeing a mirage? And I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk 500 more…

That is essentially what happened in my head every day for a solid week during what is known as the Meseta (plateau). No lies, the Meseta is dreaded by most pilgrims who have heard the horror stories of those who came before them. Some people planned to skip the Meseta completely or to rent a bike to make the 109 miles go by as quickly as possible.

The Meseta reminded me of Kansas, or Iowa, or Nebraska, or any of the other flat states that consist of pretty much nothing besides farms. It’s not that it was ugly, it was that it was the same…always the same. And flat is nice, but when you can see your destination which is actually 10 miles down the road it always looks like you have made zero progress even though your legs are telling you that they are tired.

When reflecting on the Meseta, I saw a direct correlation with other times in my life. Other times when I knew the destination, but I was so focused on it that it never looked like it was getting closer. I didn’t take the time to appreciate the journey, to look around at the scenery and recognize the beauty that surrounded me. Sure the farms may not be as beautiful to me as the mountains and streams that I prefer, but that doesn’t make them less beautiful. I can’t say I loved all aspects of the Meseta, but it was on those long stretches of straight road where I had some of the best conversations and some of the best times of deep thought.

I can’t help but think about what I have missed on the path of life, that was beautiful in and of itself, even if it wasn’t the beauty I was wanting. Maybe you’ve experienced this too, maybe without even realizing it. Think about some of the best things in your life right now. Were they the destination you thought you were headed to or were they the result of a change in destination or a delay in reaching the destination? Maybe your best friend is your best friend because of how close you became when you were going through a rough patch and needed someone to talk to. Maybe your career is not what you thought you would be doing, but it is exactly what you should be doing and where your real skills lie.

My challenge to myself, and to you all as well, is to look around wherever you are in life right now and appreciate the things that are present. They may not be what you thought you wanted or needed, but maybe they can be loved just the same.

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