I didn’t really prepare myself for the Camino. Sure, I hit the REI sale and stocked up on my hiking boots, poncho (haven’t needed it so far thank goodness!), backpack and something called “Body Glide” (which I haven’t needed yet either!). I did a bit of walking on vacation (thanks for the walks Lari and Joe) to break in those boots. (I read “Wild”. I was NOT going to lose all my toenails on this trip!!) I tried to fit in walking in Ireland too, and I am so glad I got to experience the magnificence of that scenery. But if I REALLY prepared, I would have walked 13 miles a few times. With a heavy backpack. Two days in a row even.
My lack of preparedness hit me yesterday. I have dislocated my left knee a few times — once in high school and again when I was pregnant for the second time. You’d think I’d be concerned about that. But no, I was more concerned about blisters on my feet. So when my knee was in pain after my walk yesterday I was worried. Had my lack of preparedness left me risking the completion of the Camino? Luckily, I have plenty of time after walking. I have hit my destinations each day around 1:30 or so. So yesterday my knee was on ice (as was my right ankle. What?!?!) and I woke up today with some pain and stiffness. Would I make it?
Well, I did. The first hour was stiff and painful and then the aspirin and the movement kicked in and I was virtually pain free for the Camino today. Actually, the pain was not the problem. It was the fear of getting my knee dislocated that really threw me. I am so thankful, as today was the easiest and the loveliest so far. I think the mountains make it more spectacular. Except I need to cross one of them I think. Tomorrow. Resting the knee again today!!
Another lesson here of course. I “get away” with a lack of preparation more times than I care to remember. Minimum amount of studying in school to get the “A”. Not packing for trips until the last minute and thus always forgetting something. Waiting until the last possible minute to get this blog going. That kind of thing. And that lack of preparation robs me. It lessens the joy, fulfillment or success of the endeavor to which I don’t put the time in to be really ready to experience. I think in some ways I am hedging my bets. If I don’t prepare, I have a ready excuse for failure. But I don’t want that anymore. I realized yesterday I REALLY want to finish the Camino. And preparing would have given me more confidence that I will. I don’t need that flimsy excuse. I know it’s a sham. Shame on me for kidding myself for far too long!!
As I was walking and thinking about this, I saw an elderly couple in one of the remote towns (if you can even call it a town) on the Camino. They were busy gardening. It struck me that the work they were doing would most likely mean that they would have food on their table in the coming months. If something failed to grow, that something would not be on their plates. Another lesson on the value of foresight and preparation. And hard work.
Our bonus lives need preparation too. Better to do the self reflection, try out different things, before the nest empties or we are ready for the new job or we want to retire. Preparation for how we want to live these extra 20 or so years will mean that those years will be more fulfilling and richer than if they just happen without intention and planning.
On this September 11, I am reminded of how we can never be fully prepared for when our lives will end. But in the meantime, I can work hard to be ready when that day happens by living each day to its fullest. On the Camino today, there was a section of the walk with a fence that pilgrims have put makeshift crosses on made of sticks. It reminded me of the fences in New York with posters of missing family members. I thought of them as I passed those crosses.