I recently decided that I need to walk the Camino. In much the same way one lost in the desert decides they need water. It’s a long story.
I have been lost for a very long time. When one is visited by trauma in early life, one often gets misplaced from the life they would have lived had the trauma not occurred. I think I did a pretty good job these past few years rediscovering that long lost potential life.
Since around 2002, I’ve been writing. I believe writing to be my calling. I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but I know it makes me a better person. Does one have to be a master at something in order to believe that thing to be their calling? I don’t think so. I think it’s in the doing of the thing that one finds its true value, not in the quantifying of one’s ability in doing the thing. The possibility of kudos should not be the determining factor. My calling is writing. Because it is while I am writing that I feel most like the person I imagine myself to be. It defines me. I’m defined by it.
There was a time when I thought rediscovering my passion would be enough. I would find my happiness in doing the thing I was destined to do. Over the past decade, though, I discovered I couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not enough to reach your calling and sit on your ass. One must always plow forward. One must always be in a state of learning and personal growth. Sure, getting BUM IN CHAIR is an awesome and integral part of being a writer. I know this because I practice it.
But discovering and embracing my calling was not enough. Not by a long-shot. I was still a severely damaged human being. I was just slightly happier because putting words to paper seemed to keep the demons at bay, even if only momentarily.
I now know I needed to do more. I needed to face the demons in my life. If you are ignoring trauma, it doesn’t go away. It feeds off of you. And it grows. And grows. And grows some more. The only way to euthanize it and take back your life is to pull it out from under the rocks and face it down.
I heard about the CAMINO years ago. I took part in the 2007 Great Canadian Winter Novel Marathon at the Pickering Public Library and two of the other participants were this dynamic woman and comical man who, together, formed this kind of Superhero Duo. They were writing a novel together. At the time, the concept kind of blew me away.
The duo were Sue Kenney and Bruce Pirrie. I later learned about the Camino through Sue. AND since I first heard about it, I knew I had to walk it. I knew in my heart. I knew in my soul. I knew in that place where you just know. The Camino called out to me. I’ve since learned that one really doesn’t choose the Camino. The Camino chooses you. When it is your time to take the walk, you will know. It will become not just thing that you once heard about, but this thumping thriving living breathing thing inside you…a force that tells you to cross an ocean. When the Camino knocks, you put down your things, find the nearest walking stick, and start waking. <<that was a fortunate spelling error–I accidentally left out the l in walking. I think it’s kind of apropos, though…don’t you.
Turns out, since the first time I met Sue, she has discovered her own new callings. She now guides tours through the Camino. CLICK HERE TO LEARN ABOUT HER MAY, 2014 GROUP CAMINO JOURNEY.
I have quite a bit of baggage to shed. And I have this rock I must leave along the Camino. I must leave it there, like others who find themselves lost in the desert must have a drink of water. I took the rock away with me when I left a Male Survivor Weekend of Recovery retreat. The rock is from a mountain top in Ohio, U.S.A. This summer, I had a moment when I knew I should leave it at our fire-pit in Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. But now I know I was wrong. Or, perhaps it only wanted to spend a season in Muskoka. Before I head for the Camino in May, I’m heading up to Muskoka to retrieve the rock.
You may think, “It’s only a rock. Why’s he making such a big deal?” A Weekend of Recovery retreat sees some thirty men participate in a fully interactive program to help them along the journey of recovery from the scars of sexual abuse. The larger group breaks down into smaller groups…and it is in these smaller groups that each participant chooses a rock from the grounds of the facility (which, for me, was at Hope Springs, in Peebles, Ohio). It is what these smaller groups do with the rocks that give them power and meaning. Each participant of the smaller group holds each rock in their hands. This symbolizes the strength we have together. Each participant walks away with a rock that was in the hands of each survivor in their small group.
Believe me…when I’m having a bad day, getting that rock out and holding onto it…it helps me to reflect on the weekend and what I learned there. I have been to Hope Springs two times. The first year, one of the other members in my small group actually gave me HIS rock. I’ve had it in my pocket every single day since October, 2011. I’m sure I’ll never be without it. But the rock I received the following year, I felt that I needed to plant it somewhere significant. And I thought maybe leaving it in that significant place would give all of us in that year’s small group a degree of power. I would be leaving a piece of US in that place.
I honestly thought Muskoka was the final resting place of that rock. But now I know differently. I’m walking the Camino to place it at the Cruz del Ferro site. This site is an iron cross atop an enormous pile of stones…stones left over the centuries by past pilgrims. This is the place I need to deliver my rock to…and in-turn deliver my brother survivors to.
I believe there is still room in Sue’s 2014 Journey. Click on the picture below to learn more.