One of the things we soon took for granted on the Camino was that we knew we would find our way. Initially we did carry some stress about this though. We had promised ourselves, before hopping on a plane to Madrid, that we would not get caught up in other people’s rhythms. We would walk at our own paces and in our time. I remember waking up the first couple of mornings wondering how on earth we were going to find the trail in the midst of winding streets. I could see that we were not heading out with the bulk of pilgrims and could feel myself wanting to hurry up so that we could at least be assured we’d get on the right path. I would wander out the door a bit to see the general direction towards which the pilgrims were heading. How did they know where to go? After the first few mornings it became clear that we didn’t need to worry about finding the way, the way would inevitably find us.
For the most part, there were decisive yellow arrows painted on streets, walls, or sometimes trees to help guide us. On occasion we did have to wander up and down nearby roads a bit until we found them, but we learned to trust that we would find them. In larger cities, rather than the familiar arrows, streets or buildings were adorned with shells identifying the way. In some places the path was simply obvious for having been worn down by thousands who had walked there before us.
There were confusing moments where an arrow was worn by time or overgrown by a tree or bush, or times when we’d be standing in front of a stone wall that had two (or more!) arrows pointing in different directions. At first we thought this was the result of a trickster trying to confuse tired wanderers. But we soon discovered that we would have ended up in the right place had we followed any of the arrows. Particularly in cities, there were many streets that would pass by different pilgrimage sites — all slightly different ways of getting to the next stage of the journey. Some, we learned, were intended for cyclists, detouring them around a series of stairs easily navigated on foot, but less so on a bicycle. It’s just that some routes were much longer than others and during a lengthy day often what we really wanted was to find the shortest one!
There was comfort, in these moments of confusion, to be with others puzzling out the way. Somehow knowing you might all be lost together offered hope as well as camaraderie. Though we may not have been aiming at the same endpoint to our day, we were always heading in the same direction!
Last night I found myself sitting on a piece of plywood balanced in Tiny’s loft (our future bedroom!), gazing out at the river behind our friends’ house, wondering where on earth the yellow arrow was. I have been feeling a bit lost and pulled in a million different directions. Where can we land with Tiny? How will we support ourselves in living this life we are envisioning? What friends will be nearby with whom to share life’s adventures? Where are the yellow arrows or shells to help guide us along?
I do really love to make raw chocolate so we are moving ahead as best we can with the idea of making and selling it online as of the Fall, on a part time basis. How does one make money off of selling edible goods? Where do we find affordable packaging or a commercial kitchen out of which to work? The questions go on and on and on. They are all worthy of exploration, whether or not we find answers. Yet there are so many of them at the moment, and fairly significant ones. I find myself doing one of two things: getting into a mad scramble to try and answer some of them or just sitting with them and stilling my breath.
It feels very much like we are at one of those intersections on the Camino where the yellow arrow pointing us in the right direction has somehow become obscured. At these confusing crossroads we seem to be off the map or beyond the purview of the guidebooks. It can feel isolating, as though we are standing here in the fog all on our lonesome. We know this isn’t true. We have friends, family, and even strangers supporting us in so many ways, and we are so, so grateful to them. We also know that life is a circle and we will provide support (or have done so) for others along their own paths. However, while everyone is seeming stable in their homes, work places, families, and daily lives, we are not. We are walking towards an unmanifested aspiration.
We do trust the universe. We know the way will find us: the perfect place to land Tiny, a way to be close to dear friends, and work that feeds our souls. But if you happen to see the little yellow arrow before we do, please let us know!