After the shock of the first day out of St. Jean and into Navarre, the second day’s walk is a respectable 22.3km, but mostly downwards in direction.
As with life, difficulties seems to rise steeply before you and behind one peak, another comes into view, so level or downward routes are never truly that. Hidden away on this route are a couple of steeper little summits.
In creativity these little kinds of path is often referred to as ‘the dip’.
You set yourself at your new endeavour with enthusiasm and action. The beginning is steep, but everything is focused and prepared. Initial difficulties are taken in your stride.
Then ‘things’ ease off. You start to gain success. Your efforts are paying off. So you relax a little. Ease back.
This is the dip.
Suddenly the road rises up in front of you again.
You feel less prepared. The effort to continue seems to be disproportionate compared to the start.
Some even quit.
The most common form of greeting on the Camino is ‘Buen Camino’ or good way.
In medieval times the common pilgrim, or peregrino, greeting was ‘ultreia’ – further onward – which would be answered with ‘et suseia’ – and further upwards.
This reflects the spiritual side of the peregrino’s journey – in walking further you gain higher spiritual awareness and reward – but it is also a life lesson – keep moving forward and you will experience and gain more.
After the dip there is the rise, but the rise doesn’t have to be an obstacle but a pinnacle of achievement.
Sando’s initial diagnosis was definitely the route out of St. Jean. We met that with joie de vivre, energy for the path ahead, and a healthy amount of fun at his expense. We did tell him that he wouldn’t be treated any differently, which he appreciated and needed.
Sore feet, aching backs and shoulders, with a sense of foreboding at those little peaks along the next part of the route, certainly kicked in as his treatment was begun.
The radiation therapy and the drugs clearly did have an impact, but Sando’s common response to our greeting of ‘how are you doing?’ Was ‘I feel fine.’
This led us to the theory that there was another ‘Sando’ out there who was continually going back to his doctor and complaining of really not being well, in a case of swapped test results for the two of them.
Sando certainly tried hard to convince the nurses that he really did feel ‘fine’ every time they came towards him with needles for blood, or drugs to fill him up.
Just 3.2km into the route for the day is the town of Burgete. Here the writer Ernest Hemingway wrote his novel ‘The Sun Also Rises’ in just eight weeks in 1926. In a note to his editor he wrote that the book was less about the ‘Lost Generation’ as Getrude Stein had referred to those lost or scarred by the Great War, but more about ‘the earth that abideth’ which is referenced as an epigraph.
Visit any church or cathedral and you easily gain a sense of those people whose footsteps yours join with, and many who have walked the Way of St. James make this comment also.
Sando felt this was true in his own pathway. He was one of many who had brain tumours and he was acutely aware that many others would follow.
The majority of people who have brain tumours are children.
I am sure we mentioned that quite a bit also.
Sando would have agreed with Hemingway (referring to his characters) that – he – they were ‘battered but not lost’.