The Camino One Year Later

Crossing the Bridge at the bottom of Rue de la Citadele
One year ago today we started walking out of St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, naive pilgrims without an idea of what was ahead of us. That seems like a lifetime ago. On the occasion of most anniversaries, I reflect on how quickly time has passed by. It seems only yesterday that we did this or that. It was only a year or so ago that we graduated, met friends, lost touch, moved in, moved out, traveled to this place or that; all things that happened years or decades ago.

This year has been different, though. I sometimes try to reflect on all that we did this year, only to have the details lost in the fog of time and memory. It takes looking back at pictures to remember all of the people we met, places we saw, and all the things we did. The pictures bring back only good memories, where it takes reading our old blog post to remember the physical and mental pain we suffered on the Camino. This is what makes the most everlasting memories though: remembering how much we needed the other people around us to keep on.

It seems years have passed by since we walked the Camino. It's hard to imagine that after we walked the Way, we also traveled all over the US, Carribean, and Central America. Our time after the Camino affected me nearly as much as the time on the Camino. We hiked the most amazing, awe-inspiring, and breathtaking trails in the National Parks, and rekindled a love of camping and the American outdoors. The National Parks we visited instilled in me an awe of nature and a pride in America that I haven't felt in years. We snorkeled among beautiful underwater gardens of coral that I didn't imagine possible. The time out living at Kahola gave me a new outlook on conservation and being less wasteful with water and energy. Living in Colorado, and seeing no other soul besides Lauren for weeks at a time gave me a much deeper understanding of our marriage and made me love her that much more.

On reflecting on the past year, I think that I can come up with three things that I've learned: we all need each other for happiness and survival, the Earth is a more beautiful and amazing place than words are capable of describing yet all too easy to defile, and we don't need extraneous material goods in our lives to be happy. What follows from this is that we should spend more time with our friends and families, spend more time outdoors, be more conservation minded, and live simpler with less things. Material goods only serve to bind you to an unhappy life of keeping up with the Jones's; working long hours to afford things that won't make you happy and serve only to fill up our landfills. Whereas, camping, hiking, and generally being in nature will make you happier, lead to lower stress, and give you a sense of how important it is to protect our natural environment. What's even better, is to enjoy these things with friends and family alongside.

A happy Camino family just after receiving our Compostela's at the end of the journey in Santiago, Spain.

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