El Camino Dreaming - Thoughts on my Quest to Walk the Camino de Santiago

 Dear Henry,

Like everyone, I have good days and bad days. And because of "the accident," bad days can be very bad. Today has been one of those very bad days, and while trying to take Ziggy for a walk, I began to doubt one of my bucket list items.

Ziggy can be a challenging dog to walk sometimes. He's incredibly "sniffy" and sometimes insistent upon checking out a smell. Because he is an 80lb dog, it's jarring when he comes to a dead stop and, on the best of days, can be painful. On the worst days, it's miserable, and today, after a two-mile walk, I was just about ready to cry, and once again, I began to wonder if there was any way I could walk the 500-mile Camino de Santiago.

It is about a year from when I plan to start the Camino, and it's time to begin training. The Camino would require 12 to 15 miles per day, and I need to be able to do those miles on bad days. Today I struggled on a two-mile walk with the dog, and I am afraid I won't be able to do it.

But I really want to.

The dream to walk the Camino predates my conversion to Catholicism (read about that journey here, here, and here) by nearly 20 years and, to a small extent, influenced my decision to convert. Because of all of the amenities built around the pilgrimage, I had thought I would be able to cope with everything, but I'm afraid of the bad days and facing them alone, in a foreign country, with my spotty Spanish skills. 

But I really want to do this.

So today, I've tried to keep the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, who said, "God would never inspire me to desires which cannot be realized." and use them to push any doubts away. If God has placed this journey upon my heart, I will be able to make it, even though a big part of me wants to just sit on the couch, scroll reels, and eat Doritos.

Facing demanding challenges and physical pain is intimidating, and there are days when I really resent how difficult my life has been.

I really shouldn't be resentful.

As many challenges as I've had, there have been a lot of blessings too. Particularly in the medical department, my youngest and I wouldn't be in as nearly good shape if it wasn't for American medicine, and neither one of us would be alive at all if we had been in a rural or developing nation. I have had a lot of graces there.

I wish everything was more manageable, and most of the time, I really wish I were more comfortable.

Of course, I have a year to prepare for this walk, preparations that don't include being ready to walk 12 miles tomorrow. In fact, all I have to do, really, is add 1/2 mile to my daily walks every week, and I'll have more than enough time to get prepared, and that plan aligns with Zeno's words "Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing."

Small steps, giant leaps.

xoxo a.d. elliott


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

In addition to the travel writings at www.takethebackroads.com, you can also read her book reviews at www.riteoffancy.com and US military biographies at www.everydaypatriot.com

Her online photography gallery can be found at shop.takethebackroads.com


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