Sometimes I’m overtaken by euphoria with a rapid onset promptly followed by dissolution, like a chemical state change and then a return to original, water turning to ice and then back to water. I am eager to shout it, to smile and make someone smile, to belt a song from the bottom of my lungs or simply to observe the physiological effects of it as an awestruck spectator. It may be a song, co-existing with nature, or being in the presence of an unconditionally loving person. I stir when I hear Ave Maria sung by a woman with an accompanying piano, or Schubert’s last three sonatas written in the final months of his life. My nervous system’s elevator is jolted and dropped down to the below-ground floor of emotion. There is beauty in sadness and in the unmeasurable depth of emotion and love. The small pockets of fervor arise and then fade in me like a bubble blown by a child on a summer day, floating in the air and popping five seconds later. The family of bubbles moving with the wind are a welcome sight and their fragility alters my perception of time in those five seconds that I savor the view.
I am spilling over the brim with tenderness and gratitude. A recollection of the squandering of many years gives way to nostalgia of the precious good times. I hear a state of presence and peace of mind calling out to me, a serene and present life, inviting me to have it. Its there, in reach, asking me to stop working myself up over being rejected by a girl, being late for a dentist appointment, to give up my obsession with worry. This intuition is saying that none of it means anything and that my presence, the real and true work of meditation and capturing the bliss of the now, second to second, is the most important work I will do, affecting change where I can, here and now. Let anything that can, wake me up from my zombified state of spending my time the way a billionaire spends his money, carelessly, like there’s an endless supply.
Finisterre– “The end of the world” – The end of the Camino
At the end of the Camino in the shore town Finisterre on the Atlantic, 90 km west of Santiago de Compostela, we laid out on the beach. The 4 or 5 of the other pilgrims convened on the sand close to the water. The sand was white and the water clear blue. A smattering of topless women, buxom young mothers and saggy women in their twilight years, roamed and laid out on towels, sunbathing. Katrine, Tonje and I had a conversation about what the Camino had done for us and what it had helped us sort out. Tonje, a bubbly fair skinned blue eyed Swedish blonde age 31, shared her recent divorce with a possessive and controlling Chilean husband. She told an impromptu story of her husband and his friends going out in a van with baseball bats looking for the guy who stole her wallet while in his hometown in Chile. They never found the culprit. I gave some recycled response that had spun around in my head like a wash spin cycle and been dried and folded many times before. Katrine said she prized time away from her in-crowd of friends and it gave her some perspective on dysfunctional past boyfriends and their parasitic and co-dependent horrors.
Later around 9 pm we walked 4 km up to the “Faro” Lighthouse, perched at an elevation on a ridge. We watched the sunset with something like a 100 or so other pilgrims sprinkled along the rocks on the cliff or bluff with the rocky shoreline hundreds of feet below. I sat adjacent to an Irish man talking to a 20 year old bright eyed Dutch girl. He was recounting to the girl that their chance encounter halfway through the Camino and then towards the end had been a sign for him to reconnect with his daughter.
He was an electrician with a thick Irish brogue, between 40 and 50, with a face like a leather baseball glove and a hoarse voice from years of drinking and smoking. He had some lightbulb insights regarding his estranged 15 year old daughter and the love he had for her. He explained what he thought of as divine providence. This higher force imploring him to re-connect and nurture his now distant daughter that was firmly in the custody of his wife.
Niels played music on his mini speakers while we watched the precious last few minutes of the sun descending below the horizon. Colors sprawled across a vast panorama of pink, purple, red, orange in the surrounding clouds. I ate the majority of the large bag of the Spanish version of Starburst that Tonje had bought for us. Tonje shed a few tears towards as the last spec of the orange sun dipped below the ocean and the crowd of pilgrims applauded. A fittingly reflective sunset.