Part 6 – Puente la Reina to Estella
Though long (24 km) this is one of the easier portions of the Camino where parts of the old Roman road to Santiago can still be found. Pilgrims walk through farmlands (olive groves and vineyards) and rest on medieval bridges taking in the views and enjoying the journey.
[This piece was written with all my ALPOM friends in mind (A Little Peace of Mind). May you all let yourselves be lived and enjoy the ride.]
Life is about squeezing lemons.
Or so we are told from a very young age: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” or orangeade, or lemon meringue pie. Whatever comes your way, do not sit on your butt. Go make something with it. Something tasty. Something juicy. And so over the years, we become master squeezers. We pick up what life throws our way and apply ourselves to the thankless task of making it meaningful and worthwhile, and when the juice is bitter or we get tired of cooking, we are quick to judge ourselves as lacking or even failing.
For most of my life, I’ve dutifully applied myself to mastering the art of squeezing lemons. With the help of coaches and therapists I did my best to discover my purpose and heed the voice in my head that was chanting, “go, go, go.” Until my personal journey with anxiety and a state of utter emotional exhaustion led me, a year ago, to experiment with an easier way to live: “I’m going to live by invitation only,” I decided. “Instead of trying to figure out my next step, I shall wait for it to present itself.” I did not know it at the time, but that was an insight, and a big one at that. I was done mixing drinks of any kind. There and then I started to follow the invisible thread that would guide me along a path I no longer needed to anticipate. And to my surprise, retiring my inner juicing equipment and walking the walk as it revealed itself have proven a winning recipe. My anxious mind is, at long last, calming down, and in this space of healing, another voice is rising.
It speaks in the silence between thoughts, during walks with my dog, while I’m doing the dishes, or typing these words. It comes when I’m awake at night or in the first flutters of consciousness at dawn. It is gentle and wise yet cuts through the crap like the sharpest of knives: “Life is full of lemons, full of oranges and berries. Make whatever appeals, and only if it appeals. No rules. No guilt. No shame.” It’s that simple.
Insights are glimpses of clarity that sprout, unannounced, out of the mysterious depths of my being, shifting the way I look at life and experience my circumstances. They are as effortless as shooting stars lighting the night sky and leave in their trail a renewed sense of ease, gratitude, and awe. After a lifetime of trying to reach elusive destinations, carrying bag loads of shoulds and musts, insights feel to me like a return to peace, a coming home to the comfort of what I see to be true. They’re like the dance of a cozy fire after a storm, the flash of understanding in the midst of confusion, the first light of the rising sun.
Life is about living.
It’s all meaningful and it’s all worthwhile. Life knows to grow lemons, to ripen them, and to grant me the ability to make lemonade if desired. Life is about experiencing life, filled with the sheer good fortune of being here and the quiet confidence of navigating well, one insight at a time. No squeezing required.
“Being at ease with not knowing is crucial for answers to come to you.”
PS#7: It’s ok to open up to a different kind of knowing.
Maryse Godet Copans © 2017