I’ve just returned from a week of writing and reflection on a (not quite) deserted island and am feeling so much grateful clarity about my post-Camino path.
We had to arrive with a story to work on, and I have only this one to tell. My Camino experience was completely deconstructed and then carefully reassembled by using the framework of the Hero’s Journey, specifically the Transformational Arc taught by the inimitable Dara Marks. Although the workshop I attended was primarily geared toward screen writers, the 3-step model she teaches overlays perfectly on top of the literal Camino de Santiago and the non-fiction reality of facing one’s inner demons.
My biggest takeaway from the week was the insight that my walk to and eventual arrival in Santiago really was only half the story. Really. This is remarkable because every Camino book I’ve read, every Camino movie, and practically any long-walk story ends at the end of the walk. But as any pilgrim worth her salt will tell you, that’s not the end at all.
The real challenge is returning to your life. That has been my real challenge, for certain. Now I know that the elation of completing this pilgrimage gave me a glimpse of how amazing life can be, how much I’m capable of, and a seed to plant in my everyday life.
In movies, this second half of the story is where two things happen: eventually, the situation seems so dire that all seems lost and this desperation requires the main character to fundamentally change who she is in order to overcome.
This has been true for me. The year after the Camino was probably among the hardest of my life – and also the most transformational. I won’t say that I feel victorious just yet, but I’m fully committed now to seeing the Camino experience manifest in my daily life, no matter how hard it gets.
That, dear readers, was worth the price of admission.