25 August, 2014 - Astorga, 3pm
My friends from New Jersey and I have settled in to our new albergue for our second night in Astorga. We just got back from having lunch - we had bread, cheese and wine in one of the town squares - and we are now eating chocolate and drinking more wine in the courtyard of our albergue. There is also a small tiled salt-water pool for us to dunk our weary feet into.
We are now surrounded by a wonderful group of people who are staying with us here in the albergue. There is a man from Britain who I learn is a Chelsea supporter. I tell him I am a Liverpool supporter and he is shocked that a GIRL from AMERICA is a football fan at all let alone a Liverpool fan. This man is walking with a father/daughter pairing from Belfast. The daughter, Maria, and I were talking about football and I mentioned that the US men's team will be playing against Ireland in a friendly in November and she said she might be interested in going to the match with me!
This is the first group of pilgrims I've met who walked all the way from St. Jean. They were telling me about meeting a group of women from New York on the Camino. This group of women were walking the Camino for a long weekend. They would send their bags ahead every morning so they didn't carry hardly anything during the day. After their Camino, they were flying to Paris, Milan and London for some shopping. The Chelsea supporter scoffed and called them "packer slackers". While I initially found his comment funny, I now find it pretty harsh. Everyone does the Camino for different reasons and who are we to judge those with different motivations from ourselves?
Then there is the Canadian couple, Shauna and Miles. They currently live in Toronto but are originally from Nova Scotia and spent a year in Vancouver so we talked about my few trips to Vancouver while studying in Seattle.
The last couple had just gotten off the train to start their Camino - two Americans named Molly and Michael. Molly is from the Midwest originally and lived in New York before moving to the West Coast to be with Mike. I can't remember where Mike is originally from but he spent time in San Francisco and both of them recently moved to Seattle. Molly is going back to school at the University of Washington and Mike is trying to get a job in the gaming/tech industry.
I love meeting all of these new people!
There is also a Spanish massage therapist who set up her table on the ground floor of the albergue and I was her first customer of the day. It was a rip-off at 15 euros for 15 minutes, but after my walk yesterday, it felt amazing!
And it was during this massage (don't ask me why it happened then) that I had this epiphany. I realized - actually I think I always knew this but it was only now that I was able to mentally articulate it and admit it to myself - that I have been going through life as if I am a burden to everyone I meet. I know this is probably a result of my low self esteem from being overweight for as long as I can remember. But now that I am getting that under control (a topic for another post), I can start to work through my emotional barriers.
Living life as a burden is a horrible, horrible thing. I am shy, tend to be overly considerate, and always afraid of offending others. I have also been known to leave early from past social occasions because I would get these minor panic attacks (detailed in a past post of mine). But here on the Camino, everyone takes everyone else for who they are. Everyone is working on something about themselves. I think I need to give a bit more credit to those I interact with. I need to have faith that they are genuinely interested in me and not just going through motions.
It is an unwritten rule for pilgrims to be willing to give without receiving. If that is what I remember when entering into interactions with other pilgrims - that they are willingly giving their time and energy - then maybe I can carry that thinking over into life after the Camino.
Dear God, thank you for helping me see myself better. Please bless all of my new friends and all of my fellow peregrinos.