I love getting lost. I love the fear. The excitement. The blood that rushes through your body. Getting lost is something that us humans are not as accustomed to now-a-days. We have GPS devices in our cars, in our smart phones, and Google Maps for precise directions. But where is the mystery in all of this?
Most peregrinos have detailed guides and maps but I don´t have anything like that. I just go. The road is marked with yellow arrows, and you must be aware of them or you will lose your way. This is not always a bad thing. Losing your way brings you into unfamiliar territory, and you will come across things you didn´t expect, for better or worse. For instance, a couple days ago, I started the day by accidentally climbing the wrong mountain. I hiked through a jungle of ferns and when I reached the top, low and behold, THERE WAS A YELLOW ARROW! I was so happy I shouted with joy that rang through the hills. But when I approached the arrow, I realized it was actually a yellow fern in the shape of an arrow… Damn. I continued ahead where I met a farmer who described a route back to the Camino. Although I went the wrong way, it was ok. I enjoyed climbing that hill. It had a beautiful atmosphere that the other pilgrims cannot say they experienced.
There are times when I walk with extreme mental clarity – head down with a good rhythm – a peaceful state of mind and body. However, when I am in this zone, I sometimes miss a sign post. The idea is to be completely alert – outwards and inwards. To recognize the movement of dark clouds in the distance, the viscosity of the mud below, and of course the hidden yellow arrows, but also the soreness of the body within, hunger, thirst, and fatigue. If you are aware, you are present.
I am now in Bilbao. I have been walking through the forest for the past week, and coming into a big city was very strange at first. I felt intimidated, empty, and alone. However, after walking along the river, I have found this place to be quite pretty. I look forward to strolling around, finding my way around, visiting the Guggenheim museum, and discovering new people and things. On this note, I urge you to do something different in your daily routine. Drive a new way to work, eat at a restaurant you´ve never been to before, or walk without a destination in mind. See what you´ll find.