Last night I ate dinner with a German couple. They barely spoke English, and I remember about four words from my German classes in high school, but somehow we managed to have a very nice conversation. I noticed that their guidebook now consisted of about five pages. The rest was gone. Many people will do that as they walk. They tear the pages out as they complete the stages, leaving less and less weight to carry each day. Every little bit helps when you are carrying everything on your back. I told them I had thought about doing the same thing, but I couldn't bring myself to tear out that first page. I love books, and for some reason it just seemed wrong for me to tear it up and throw it away. We even laughed when the man apologized to me for mutilating his book. It was a very brief, and seemingly inconsequential part of our conversation.
This morning, I left a few minutes before they did. Taking it slow, as usual, I had paused to breathe in the smell of the eucalyptus trees in the morning air, and to enjoy another of the magical green fairyland forests that I've come to love in Galicia. The German couple walked by, wishing me a Buen Camino. A few steps later, the man stopped, turned around, and asked me, "You love books?"
"Yes, very much."
"Do you write books?"
Holding back the sudden tears that sprang to my eyes, I said, "Not yet. But I plan to." In my head, I was thinking, "If I ever figure out how..."
He winked and tapped his head with his finger and said, "I suspected that."
He asked me if there was anything of mine he could read online. I directed him to this blog, telling him this was it for now. Then we parted ways as they walked on down the path.
Some of you who've known me for awhile will understand the significance and the incredible synchronicity of that conversation. I have been told over and over by many people that I need to write a book. I have agreed, confirming that I feel that I have a book somewhere inside of me, waiting to get out. I just don't know how to begin. I was thinking that very thing as I began to walk, the tears I had held back were now flowing freely. And suddenly I remembered that I didn't know how to walk the Camino a year ago either. It's not up to me to worry about the "how". It's my job to figure out the "what". How many times have I said that throughout this past year? How many times does this book thing have to hit me over the head before I pursue it seriously?
When I left for Spain, many people asked me what I planned to do after I got back. I always said I didn't know, but that the answer would become clear when the time was right. I had two months ahead of me with nothing to do, but think about that question. I had begun to wonder if there was even going to be an answer or if, for some reason I couldn't understand, maybe I'd return feeling just as lost about my next step as ever. Here I was, less than a week from finishing, and that sign from heaven had not yet appeared.
That chance meeting and conversation with a stranger was no coincidence. There is no such thing as coincidence. I finally know what's next. I have no idea how. I have no idea why. I just know it's what I'm supposed to do. Wow! Does that sound familiar, or what? Pretty sure I said those exact words when I decided to walk the Camino.
And so I have come full circle. Am I ending where I began, or beginning where I end?
Does it really matter?