At the last step before entering Santiago, the grand finale to an adventure I’d had my heart set on for years, I expected tears of bittersweet sentiments to pour out of me. However, upon reaching the Cathedral of Compostela, I felt somewhat indifferent and disconnected from the beautiful structure.
When I presented my pilgrim credential for one last stamp and received the legendary certificate announcing I had completed the route, I realized something. For a real pilgrim, this is just a piece of paper. Everything you need to mark the end of your road is already inside you and no Compostela diploma can parallel this truth.
I heard the birds and crickets sing me songs from natures soundtrack. I sat down on rocks and watched the wind dance in the trees. I saw the world go by in the most relaxing and tranquil way. I learned to open my heart and lose fear; two lessons that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life. I broke bread with fellow pilgrims and laughed. My hand was held on this trip.
Besides being an astonishing adventure with unforgettable sights, the Camino de Santiago is a spiritual ambition that can be a life changing experience. If you let it, you will learn to truly appreciate life for its most simple and most important qualities. Having a clean bed to sleep in, warm shower, food to fill your belly, and people in your life to share memories with. These are fundamental things that are often forgotten in today’s materialistic society, but ultimately are the key to finding inner strength and happiness.
All that I learned on this trip I value, but what I will never forget is how impossible the distance once seemed. With one glance at a map, I felt like I would never arrive.
But I did arrive. With one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, I made it. Life often can be harsh, stubborn, or present us with difficult and challenging situations. The important thing to remember is that in all of us lies the power to overcome; no matter how scary or impossible something seems. Stop, breathe, rest for a minute, and take each hurdle at a time. Like this, you too will arrive to your Santiago.