My Bags are Packed and I’m Ready to Go

photo (11)

Today September 30, 2014 I begin my journey.  It involves a ferry, a car ride, a bus, two planes, a taxi and an overnight train. As unappealing as this may sound I’m embracing the adventure of it all.

Last week I was walking around Peaks Island preparing for my walk of the last 100 kilometers, read 62 miles, of the Camino de Santiago that actually begins on October 3rd. I was about a mile into my walk checking my time and distance on my Garmin watch and I found my mind wandering to how many miles I can walk in an hour and how many hours I’ll be walking each day. I began planning the whole thing, day by day. Thinking about what time I should start in the morning and how much distance I can cover before lunch. I imagined I could start at 8 and walk until noon. So, at 3.5 miles an hour I could complete most of the day’s walk by lunch. STOP! I caught myself doing this and almost laughed out loud. I’m not going on this walk as a race or to plan how it will all work out, I’m going to simply “be” on the walk, not “do” the walk. No plan, no rush. There are so few times in life that any of us have the luxury of getting up each morning and walking through, what I imagine to be, beautiful scenery, trees with turning leaves, rolling hills and small towns filled with great food and wine.  I might meet people or walk alone; I might listen to my book on tape or to the sounds of nature. Who knows? What I do know is that I have spent most of my life anticipating what will happen and creating lots of scenarios, some catastrophic, some romantic, but all in my head. When the reality of life unfolds before me with no forethought or plan or even an expectation about what will happen it can be magical. That is what I want; the magic of each day, the unexpected excitement. I realize this is not easy and probably takes some effort. It seems like a lot less work to let life just be. To be in the moment. That may sound cliché but that’s what I look forward to.

I have managed to fit all my worldly possessions in a carry on suitcase and small daypack and I’m off. I have never been a great picture taker and often let the images of my journeys live in the emulsions of my mind. My husband, Steve, takes hundreds of pictures when we’re together and I have come to rely on his chronicle of our adventures. This time I’m on my own with both a real camera, if I can figure out how to use it, and my iPhone, with the intent of taking loads of pictures. That may or may not happen. Who knows? My only plan is to enter this journey with wonderment and a true sense of adventure. “Now it’s a matter of gliding through… I picture an autumn leaf happily floating down a stream. It can be nearly effortless as the current and wind carry you.” Thanks Steve.

I am grateful for this opportunity and will certainly stay in touch and let you know if the challenge of living in the moment is real for me.

Stay in touch and I will too.
With love and gratitude,
Marsha

Advertisements

TIME ALONE: LIFE’S LITTLE GIFT

4_51

“It’s not often in life you get to have some true alone time, whether or not you really want it, it can be some great space for reflection.” A few weeks ago I received an email from my son Jake with this piece of wisdom. I am preparing to leave Maine after 3 incredible months of time with family and friends and head off alone on a journey that could prove to be the time of my life, well for this year anyway. I’ll be travelling for a month through Spain, Belgium and Italy, balancing my time between weeks of being alone and meeting up with my sister and some good friends. My journey begins in Spain as I make my self-guided “pilgrimage” along the last 100k of the Camino de Santiago. This trip is my gift to myself, to celebrate my 65th birthday. My life has been filled with adventures, some ordinary, some extraordinary, many amazing, others heartbreaking, but all lessons on my path.

To be really honest, the biggest challenge I’m facing right now is how to pack everything I need (or want) for a month, in a carry on bag. As the years have clipped along I have accumulated lots of “stuff” and I’ve schlepped that stuff around with me from adventure to adventure. Twice this past year my suitcase was lost by the airlines, only to be reunited with me a week later. In both cases when the bag arrived and I opened it to find it filled with my worldly possessions, I wondered why I needed any of those things, since I seemed to be getting along fine without them. This trip forces me to bring only the necessary items. I’ve read all the articles about how to pack, folding vs. rolling, how to mix and match several outfits and change them all by adding a scarf. With all this knowledge I’m still faced with too much and not enough space. That’s about the extent of my reflective behavior at the moment. I ponder what I need and what I don’t. The older I get, the clearer it becomes that downsizing is the way to go. When family and friends ask what I want for a birthday or an anniversary I usually reply that whatever it is, it should be eatable. I don’t want to accumulate anything more at this point.

I suppose when I was in my 20’s, 30’s 40’s, and even my 50’s, this journey might have brought some soul searching for the next epiphany about what the next big step on my path would be. This time my thoughts are of meeting interesting and interested people, listening to some great books on tape, eating great food, drinking good wine, and the physical challenge of walking many miles each day for several days. I imagine that Advil and Arnica will be my new best friends. I am not going with expectations of what will happen or how I might change. Instead I’ll focus on the gifts before me.

I feel incredibly privileged to have the time, resources and support of a loving husband to do this journey. I also feel enormously grateful that I am in good physical shape, able to walk and move from place to place without assistance. I am a healthy, independent, adventurous 65-year old woman and that is something to be both proud of and grateful for.

I will take to heart the wisdom that my son Jacob has imparted on me and know that it is a gift to have this time alone and even when I might wish for someone’s familiar companionship, I won’t forget that it’s a great space for reflection. In the amazing words of Hafiz:

 “The wind and I could come by and carry you the last part of your journey, if you become light enough, by just letting go of a few more things you are clinging to…. that still believe in gravity”

Here’s to lightness of being, letting go and allowing the adventure to unfold.

Stay in touch and I will too.

With love and gratitude,

Marsha