21/02/2009

The Way of Santiago



Once I met Paulo Coelho. Yes, I do mean the world famous author of The Alchemist and many other best-sellers. It was 1989, he wasn´t the outstanding writer translated into 67 languages, I was a girl and not a woman about to reach a turning point in my life.

He was in my city visiting bookshops and promoting his work. When I handed him my copy of The Pilgrimage, his book about the legendary medieval Way of Saint James – or El Camino de Santiago – he was very surprised to see I owned a first edition copy. He told me he used to count how many books he´d sold at that time. I told him I´d love to make that pilgrimage but didn´t have the money or the guts to do it. So, before signing my book, he wrote me something that spoke deeply to my heart: Ana Paula, don´t you ever forget the Way of Santiago is also inside us.

Today, going through some old texts I´ve written, I found something about this craving I have to simply hit the road and drive. No thinking, no planning, no route, no return date. It was written 7 years ago when I was stuck at a dead end job and quite broke which probably made the longing worst. I could only dream about an adventure of the sort. I couldn’t afford it in many ways. All I wish I had were one month and something like five thousand dollars.

But to hit the road and disappear? Mind you this can also be called escaping or running away. Your problems will follow right behind you, tracking you down. This is what the character in my book is doing. Perhaps that´s why it´s been on my mind lately.

But to go on a journey - that doesn´t necessarily have to be spiritual or least the Way of Santiago – is to go in search of. Answers, questions, adventure or purely chance in a broader sense.

So today to my amazement I realize I don´t want to hit the road anymore. I want to go on a Way. And on the Way there´ll be questions, answers, crossroads and detours, rivers to cross, rocks blocking my path. There´s only this one thing I can be certain of: somebody will be waiting for me in the end. That would be myself.

I´m not stuck at anything. I´m not broke. Quite contrary, I´ve got loads of time and yes, I can afford it. So perhaps it´s time I do it. It doesn´t matter if I drive north or south. I know what I´m seeking, I know what I´ll hit upon, I know what I´ll get back. The time has come. Forty is a good age to discover who you really are and most important of all, who you can become.

I wish I could tell Paulo Coelho - wasn´t he such a celebrity now - that 20 years after he wrote me a few lines I´ll never forget, that I´m finally ready to reach Compostela. I´m sure he´d be very proud of me.

5 comments:

  1. Good luck, Sweetie! I'll follow you in the spirit and in my mind. Just take good care of yourself. I'm proud of you! And proud of being your friend!
    Luv ya! Laila

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  2. Dear Laila, your support and kind words are so conforting! I promise I´ll be sharing photos and experiences with you through this blog. And maybe some day... who knows if my path won´t take me farther, all the way to Denmark? ;) Lots of love!

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  3. No words!!
    I'm proud of you, too!
    Love ya, dear Ana!
    Kisses,
    Flavia

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  4. Fla, my number 1 fan! =) I´m proud of being your friend too! Kisses!

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