Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to win at pilgrimmage

I like to win. It's one of my hobbies, right up there with "being right" and "bossing people."

And there are enough old people on the Camino that most of the time I feel like I am winning. It's easy to breeze past the olds with a nod and a "buen camino," and feel young and fit and strong. There's only one problem with making pilgrimmage into a race:


Seriously. Germans are intense. And very efficient. Yesterday I spent most of the day walking with a German guy named Axle, who was a total riot, but in spite of being a chainsmoker in his forties, he practically ran up that mountain, leaving me huffing in his wake. Fortunately I have discovered the solution:

Just when I thought I was going to puke or pass out or die, I would stop suddenly, look down the mountain and sigh, "have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"

This way, instead of stopping because I can't go on, I'm choosing to stop. I'm stopping because I understand that pilgrimmage isn't a race, it's about slowness, and living with intention, and appreciating the little things. And also about winning, if not by being the fastest, then by being the most pious.

So the Germans can win the race, because I am clearly winning at ENLIGHTENMENT.


L.Bo Marie said...

ok, I've finally caught up on your postings
and I'm reading them at work
and I've got my fist shoved in my mouth
so I won't laugh too hard
or too loudly
and I keep faking coughing fits.

love to you!

Paula Thomas said...

Yer awesome, Rachel!!! All the best for the last few kilometres!

(Did you ever think about walking another 60 km to Finisterre ... and burning the clothing that you've been wearing for 800 km?!)



David Russell said...

Go Rachel!

we got back June 7th, I am jones'n for the Way...

mendo-camino at blog spot is mine

enjoy yourself, the Camino will never leave you.


L.Bo Marie said...

also, I hope you don't mind... I may have directed some traffic your way yesterday via a link.

Julianne said...

The Germans haven't played me at Taboo yet...then we'll see who wins! :)

Paula Thomas said...

So, Rachel ... tell us about your victory march into Santiago de Compostela!!! And paying homage to St. James the Great!

(Don't you kinda feel sorry for the James who is called St. James the Less?! Or is it St. James the Lesser. Either way ... ouch.)

Did you hear why there has always been so much incense in the Cathedral in Santiago?! To mask the horrid body odour of the pilgrims?! :-)

Many congratulations on completing The Way! This experience will shape your entire life!


Rage said...

Thanks, Paula. I did think about walking to Finisterre, but The Rev. was meeting me in Santiago on the 18th, and he didn't seem up for three days of hiking. Instead we ate steak and went to the beach.

I was thinking of you while I drank a cafe con leche in O'Cebreiro (I don't know if I'm spelling that right) early in the morning, above the fog.

Anonymous said...

If you don't lose, you win.
If you don't play, you can't lose.
If you don't play, therefore, you win.

Or something like that.