Describing the Indescribable

Image Credit: Jorge Luis Ojeda Flota

In September 2016, I walked 126 miles in eight days.

For as long as I’d lived in Spain, I’d heard people talking about the spiritual experiences they’d had on the Camino de Santiago. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to say it changed their life. In fact, it was the norm.

The Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, is a storied pilgrimage across northern Spain. Each year, thousands of pilgrims make their way to Santiago de Compostela where tradition states the remains of the saint are buried.

Today, it is popular among both religious persons as well as individuals seeking a respite from modern life. I fell among the latter.

I set off on my Camino expecting an epiphany at every mile marker (or kilometer marker because, you know, Europe). When it was all said and done, to say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. I’d walked all the way across Galicia…I’d trekked all the way to the goddamned Atlantic Ocean, and all I had to show for it was two blistered feet and a dusty backpack.

Or, so I thought.

Over the next year, I told whoever would listen that I thought the Camino was overrated.

Don’t bother. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

Time and time again, I sat down at my computer with plans to put down all my thoughts in one scathing post de-hyping the Camino. I was on a crusade to manage expectations.

But, I couldn’t do it.

Now, more than a year has passed since I reached the 0,0 km marker and watched the sunset in the place the Romans declared “the end of the world”. My blisters have long since healed, but I still think about the Camino.

I think about it every day.

Last week, I pitched a story about my Camino experience to a travel website in hopes that a deadline would give me the push I’ve obviously been needing. They accepted. My first draft is due Friday.

From the moment you decide to call yourself a writer, you are simultaneously agreeing to never say “I can’t describe it”. Putting the seemingly indescribable into words is the entire nature of the job.

Wish me luck.