I am reading my 32nd book of the year. A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. I am not loving it. It is filled with so many characters I need a road map to keep them straight. There is one thread in this storyline that I love and that is why I am still reading this book. I anticipate the journey for this character will be insightful.
The last book I read, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce was a lovely read. It is one of those kinds of books that you think about after it is finished because it makes more sense knowing the ending, then you must think about his journey in a different light. Maybe it has to do with where I am at this point in my life, but the thought of walking a pilgrimage is very appealing to me.
My brother-in-law did the El Camino Santiago over a 6 week period a couple of years ago. He walked a marathon a day and sometimes farther. By the time he was finished, he had disposed of most of his contents of his backpack to make the journey lighter. This appears to be a common theme amongst these journeys, the need or desire to rid yourself of extra baggage. This is obviously a metaphor for the pilgrims lives too.
From the different journeys I read about, doing something hard or taxing on your body accomplishes different things,
- Makes you realize how strong you are and it is the mental strength that pulls you through.
- It gives you time to reflect and work through relationship issues that you have control over. Self-reflection is always a good thing.
- Gives you direction for your future and helps you decided what is important in your life. This gives you a good idea what you can live without.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed was another pilgrimage where she discarded contents from her bag and learned she could do more with less. This wasn’t just about the contents in her bag, it had more to do with the people and events in her life. She was a train wreck waiting to happen.
When I trained for my first half marathon, the accomplishment of it was overshadowed by the finish and “what next”. I was not prepared for the feeling of loss. There is documented evidence that describes depression after finishing a marathon. I think this is why people get so addicted to running so many. It keeps a mental focus for the long term instead of a one and done kind of deal. It took me a long time to get over it and finding a new athletic goal was the key to recovery.
The same can be said for your everyday life. Finding goals and attaining them are huge in your mental focus and strength. Having situations change and realizing the goal needs to be changed can be devastating. Letting things go along the way to lighten the load can make a big difference in the outcome. Sometimes its the support of friends and family that take part of the load for you. Having support is huge. Harold found it in his wife, Cheryl found it in letters that came at postoffice stops, and my brother-in-law found it with family and friends he made along the way.
The trick is knowing what to get rid of and trusting things will be okay with out the stuff.