Thursday Tidbits

Posted on May 13, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

On the Camino with Tracy (Australia) and Marty (Argentina)


Oh, we won’t give in,

We’ll keep living in the past.”

Living in the Past – Jethro Tull

With humblest apologies.

It’s official. I’m incorrigible. I’m perpetually living in the past. The pandemic has brought me to my knees. I am longing for the good old days while staring into the future with uncertainty.

What is your favourite movie of all time? I think it depends on many things including the genre but for pure entertainment value, The Shawshank Redemption is still near the very top of my list. After reading this, please feel free to post your favourite.

I have just finished watching The Way for the fourth time. It stars Martin Sheen and is the story of an ophthalmologist living the good life in southern California. His son Daniel, played by Emilio Estevez,   is a PhD student and the two have a bit of a rocky relationship. The son is a traveller and a dreamer and decides to discontinue his studies, much to the chagrin of his father. His latest adventure takes him to southern France to cross the Pyrenees and start his march across Spain doing the Camino. On the very first day of this 800 -kilometer pilgrimage, Daniel dies in an accident in the mountains. His father flies to St. Jean Pied de Port, the starting point of the Camino, to pick up his sons remains. He has his son cremated and then decides to walk the Camino himself, carrying his son’s backpack, along with the ashes.

Two years ago today, I was into my second week of the Camino. I was inspired to do the walk by my late brother, Tom. A year before, he had done the Camino while in the latter stages of cancer. He raved about the experience. For many years, Tom had been an avid hiker. He and his best friend Mark had tackled some serious mountains and trails over a lifetime of great friendship. They often joked that when they were old and frail, they would tackle something simple like an 800 kilometer stroll across Spain! Mark never got the opportunity as he died while hiking in some bad weather. To honor Mark’s memory, Tom carried some of Mark’s ashes and deposited them at the highest peak on the Camino.

After hearing Tom’s anecdotes about his Camino and looking at the dazzling pictures, I knew I had to go. Tom was gracious and loaned me his backpack, his hiking poles and most importantly, a guidebook. My plan was to try as much as possible to follow exactly in Tom’s footsteps and write a book about it. For the first two weeks, I managed to match his frenetic pace but eventually I eased back on the throttle to make sure that I could actually finish the walk in one piece.

Upon completion of the Camino, I was preparing to return Tom’s equipment. He decided that his hiking days were over, and he gave me the backpack and the poles. He died shortly after I finished writing the book. I was so pleased that he had a chance to read it before he passed.

When I’m not teaching, I have a lot of time to think which is a dangerous preoccupation. The pandemic makes me yearn for happier days when I can see my family and friends and do some more travelling. At the top of the list is the Camino. Some of you who read my book must wonder about my sanity. The Camino is not for sissies. It is a long and difficult walk compounded by aching muscles and especially blisters. Why would I want to do this twice let alone once? The answer is quite simple. My plan is to do the walk when the pandemic has ended. I will take some of Tom’s ashes and take them to the highest peak on the Camino and reunite Tom with his best friend.

A few days ago, I reached out to my Camino friends. I met hundreds of interesting people along The Way and have kept in touch with a small group who are scattered around the globe. So far, I have received messages from The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Poland, the United States, Canada, Portugal, Spain and Argentina. I expect I will hear from many others in the days to come. I can tell you that every single one of them pines for better days and a chance to walk the Camino again. And yes, they are as sick of Covid as everyone else.

It is hardly surprising that The Way is now my favourite movie of all time because it is deeply personal to me. If you are healthy enough, go and do The Camino. If you can’t and want to experience it vicariously, I would encourage you to watch The Way. It is a feel good story in these difficult times.

Buen Camino!

Have a great weekend.

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Highland Hearing Clinic

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