DAY ELEVEN: ALL LESSONS BIG AND SMALL, ALL WISE AND WONDERFUL

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As I lay here amongst the clamor of Luc’s nightly sound effects, in one of our matching twin “light pink” beds—Kleenex shoved up both of my nostrils, all I can think of is Antoine. The reality is, we may never see him again—and the thought of that is making me feel a little sad. I’m not sure why. A complete stranger—who could literally be running from a dark past, hiding amongst all the other enlightened Pilgrims here on the Camino. But, somehow, I trust my gut on this guy. He seems deeply wise and content, like he knows more than most—and I’m not ready to say good-by. Maybe it’s simply because I selfishly want Luc to continue learning from this life-experienced and mystifying soul.

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Since I was quite young, I’ve taken great pleasure in learning from others. Even if they were unkind, there’s always a lesson to be learned. But I don’t think Luc’s brain works in that way. Actually, due to the agglomeration of conversations we’ve had over the last twenty-eight years, I’m certain of it. Yet, the fact that Antoine sparked something deep inside my Luc, is something to truly celebrate. I might even throw a “Congratulations—Luc Makes Eye Contact” party when I get back. We could have a soul gazing contest, play eye contact games, and make continuous toast with that uncomfortable eye contact we’re all forced to make while toasting today. It will be great! Although, per my last blog, it appears his fellow employees may be benefiting the fruit of Luc’s eye bonding awakening, more than I. 

If Antoine only knew the impact he made on Luc, and now, a character in my blog.

Speaking of characters, we have barely met anyone on the Camino the last few days. It has felt like other pilgrims purposely stay away in respecting your time together when you’re a couple here. You do get a, “hello” and, “Bein Camino”—but that’s about it. When I walked the entire Camino alone, I couldn’t get through a meal without someone asking if they could sit with me. And if I crossed someones path while walking, they were ready to ‘chat up a storm’, as my dad would say with an oklahoman accent. 

I miss that this trip; getting to know people that would otherwise not be in your life.

See—there’s even a lesson in that. 

Being content with what is.

For me, that’s simply “being” with Luc. 

Only something I’ve longed for in the twenty-eight plus years I’ve known him. 

I’ll take being shunned by every single pilgrim if that’s what it takes.

And a miracle happened today.

Luc wasn’t talking much as we were trekking along, until he suddenly and unexpectedly said, “Honey, let’s talk about ‘us’.” 

I stayed quiet for a long minute, then, I totally blew it. I answered, “No, let’s not talk. Let’s just walk and enjoy this beautiful scenery.” 

At the time, we were walking along a noisy, never-ending highway; surrounded by dried up wheat fields.

All these years, getting him to talk about “us”, felt like I was asking him to paint our entire house a with a round-tip artist’s paint brush the size of my pinky nail clipping. 

And I had to go and say, no, let’s not talk—let’s just walk and enjoy the scenery? Wtf—of a highway and dried up wheat fields?

But, ironically, it felt liberating. Suddenly, every breath I took felt more and more alive. My preoccupied and not-so-present lifemate wanted to talk “us”—and “I” didn’t feel the need to. 

Although, after all was said and done, I quickly sensed Luc was relieved that I didn’t want to talk “us”—but I ignored that part.

And soon, we were magically walking through field after field of sunflowers, as they blissfully worshiped the blazing sun; taking on it’s likeness times a thousand. 

Sunflowers could be the happiest looking flower alive—and I, myself, am quite obsessed with them—as well as allergic.

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In 2006, during a long stay in Italy, I did an oil painting of a field of sunflowers called, “Depth of our Dreams.” I painted sunflower after sunflower after sunflower—while losing someone dear to me; someone I had known most of my life; amongst other hardships. 

Paintings speak to us, if we listen with our hearts.

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And today, these Spanish sunflowers spoke to me. 

I was right where I wanted to be. 

No matter what we may be facing, or how we may be physically feeling, life is what we make it. It’s the constant chatter in our heads that can make things difficult—the story we tell ourselves. When all we need to do is tell ourselves a better one; ultimately getting out of our heads, being still and content with “what is.” After all, “what is” is all there is—there’s so much beauty when you accept that and reside there. And I personally want to continue mastering exactly that—in each moment I have left walking this earth. 

Life is precious, and we never know when it could be taken away from us, or from someone we love.

Today, was a day to simply “be” and enjoy. So, I sang and laughed, at times walked joyfully in silence; no matter how much my body hurt…no matter how bad my head cold is…no matter how cranky Luc became. 

And just as both Luc and I had nothing left, but delirium and bodies that refused to take another step, we ran into one last sunflower on our second to last day here on the Camino; all alone in a dried-up wheat field—with a smiley face. 

Yes, this really happened.

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This Camino shit is deep.

The lessons keep coming. 

And Luc ended dinner tonight by saying something which was hard for him to say, “I give up. You win. You’re the toughest around.”

So as I fall asleep, my fingers barely able to type another word, I have one last thing to say: 

Good-bye sweet Antoine, you are not needed anymore. I got this. ;)