Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making Every Ounce Count

I leave in a week and a day.  After planning, dreaming, fretting, hoping, reading for nearly five years, it's down to a week and a day.  All the important stuff is (I hope!) figured out, but there are many small decisions yet to be made.

I'm in the process of packing my bag, trying to figure out what to take and what to leave behind.  The maximum weight for my backpack is 14 pounds, not including food and water.

 This is not very much, and I will quite literally be weighing EVERYTHING that goes in.  I bought a postal scale and every single item that goes in is evaluated on the basis of how much it weighs.  Shorts for sleeping--what pair is the lightest?  Book for journaling--what weighs the least?  Deodorant and toothpaste--smallest possible size.   Guidebook--will razor out the pertinent pages and leave the historical/preparation/spiritual parts behind (the book love in me is appalled, but it will save several ounces.)  Solid bar soap that can be used to wash hair, clothes and body, so only have one thing instead of three to carry.

The thought of going seven weeks without anything to read made my eyes cross, so I bought an e-book reader.  After agonizing for weeks over Kindle vs. Nook, I decided on the Kindle largely because it is lighter than the Nook.  I am taking (not ugly) Crocs instead of Teva sandals to wear in the evening because they are lighter.

These are my not-ugly Crocs, which can also double as shower shoes.

 I've already decided to take only two pairs of pants, one of which I will be wearing.  Now I need to decide if I can take three short-sleeved shirts or just two.  Two tank tops or three? The extras only weight 3 or 4 ounces each, but you take 4 things that weigh 4 ounces each, and you have an extra pound.

All this agonizing over every ounce makes me thing about the unnecessary stuff I carry around.  Petty grievances.  Old wounds.  Prideful assumptions.  Impatient arrogance.  All of these weigh a lot, and need to be left behind.

Father Edward Hays offers this wise poem about packing for a pilgrimage.  I  hope I am wise enough to take its guidance to heart.

A Pilgrim’s Suitcase Psalm
Edward Hays

O God of departures, Holy One of the Exodus,
Spirit Guardian of all roads and routes,
I am about to depart on a new adventure in life,
and my bags are packed with both dread and delight.
The old is known, comfortable, safe and secure;
the unknown is threatening and danger-filled.
O God of travelers and holy emigrants, help me:
Besides anticipation and appreciation,
What else should I pack?

Comfortable clothes of change—nothing starched—
Yes, I understand, and a change of shoes.
Comfortable hiking shoes for exploring with ease
the strange, unknown, wild lands ahead.
Yes, and also my dancing shoes so that with delight,
I can celebrate the feasts I come upon…

One dream vision as my map, and the compass of prayer
when fog hides the stars or eclipses the sun.
One medicine kit with patience tablets for delays,
dried memories for snacks along the way
and bandages for a sprained spirit after a fall.

God of departures and homecomings, may I go forth with
the adventure-hungry spirit of an explorer,
the faith of one homeward bound to you
and with you, Beloved Companion,
as my navigator and my guide.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Giving My Inner Control Freak a Vacation

I'm pretty much a control freak. I go around double-checking on details and making sure all the i's are dotted and all the t's are crossed. 

But when I travel, my control freak really takes over.  I plan EVERYTHING when I travel.  I don't go from here to North Platte without making reservations.  Heck, I don't go from here to Lincoln without reservations.  I know when I'm leaving, where I'm going, how I'm going to get there, and my ETA.
Whenever I hear someone say that their idea of the perfect vacation and just drive with no idea of a destination or where they will spend the night, it literally gives me the shivers.  It sounds like a nightmare to me!

But I'm giving my control freak a vacation while I'm on El Camino.  I have a reservation for the first night, at Orisson, which is necessary because it is the only place to stay if you don't plan to do the Pyrenees in one day (and I don't!) The next night I'm meeting an internet friend in Roncesvalles for dinner.   But beyond that--no plans.  I have to meet my husband in Sarria, Spain, on June 21, but from May 13 to June 21, nothing planned except to get up each morning and walk until I'm tired, then stop walking and rest.

A couple of weeks ago I got out my El Camino guide book and started making plans, thinking about where I could stay each night, how far I could reasonably walk, where the pilgrim refugios were located and what were the sights along the way.  Then I realized what I was doing.  So I closed up the book.  I'll take the guidebook, of course, and look at it each day, so that I know what my options are, but I am not going to plan any further ahead than a day at a time.
This is a deliberate spiritual decision for me--to open myself to the gifts and challenges each day will bring.  To just be in the moment.  I think it will either be transformative--or it will drive me absolutely around the bend!
(By the way, every day up to starting El Camino is carefully planned, as is every day after we finish.  I can only take so much lack of structure!)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

13 Miles!

I walked 13 miles today!  I walked with a pack holding about 3/4 of the weight I will carry on El Camino. 

Since I will need to average 12-13 miles this was a significant milestone in my training.  I was ridiculously anxious--the furthest I had previously walked was 8.6 miles.  What would 13 miles feel like?  What would I feel like?  I was pretty sure I could make it, but I still felt anxious.

But I MADE IT!  Not too speedy--4 hours and 30 minutes, including breaks. My feet ache (but no blisters!), my legs ache,  and since I burned 2400 calories, I'm famished. But I MADE IT!
If I weren't so tired I would do a Rocky fist pump.