Anastasia Sukhanov
a Few Words
Published in
3 min readApr 10, 2020

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Turns out nowhere to go is a lot like 900 km to go. The COVID-19 lockdown is weirdly similar to the Camino de Santiago, a 900 km long pilgrimage across Northern Spain. And now I have done both.

In both scenarios you are brutally uprooted from your daily routine, from the comfortable misery you were living with so much gusto, from the readily available distractions.

You connect to people who are in close proximity of you, literally. Fellow pilgrims, hostel receptionists, shepherds — neighbours, mailmen, delivery dudes. They are your humans now, no Zoom account required.

You get to know that stuff is just stuff — a function that only gains value when put to good use. Clean socks bring pilgrims joy on any given day. But a dozen designer handbags only amount to a costly dust collection system when you have nowhere to walk them to.

You are shaken into a state of deep internal awareness. On the Camino you get to know exactly what you are carrying — not just in your backpack (trust me, after four days you can name every single item) but in your heart, and in its darkest corners. In lockdown, with nowhere to run to, we’re forced to evaluate exactly the state we got to this emergency landing in. Sobering? Yeah.

And yet we insist on using old remedies against the tide of time that has already brought a new coordinate system with it. If your plane crash-landed in the Amazon would you be looking for your passport? No, so get real.

That is the greatest paradox: not going anywhere has a very similar effect to going very far. We shed our layers. Gym addicts’ muscles, false politeness, age stereotypes, eyelash extensions, social status, nationality — all gone.

And that’s when the importance of important things creeps up. Having a hand to hold. The music of a breakfast being made for you by someone else. Breathing. The smell of a new book. A comfortable bed. More breathing. Sunrises. Bracing yourself for seasonal holidays with the family. Overpriced takeaway coffee. Dental appointments! Dancing. Complaining about never having the time to go out. Queue banter. Freedom, if only relative and fleeting. Love.

The lockdown is the pilgrimage.

So, here’s my advice to you, class of 2020 :) The only thing you can control is what’s in your heart and backpack — the latter not being applicable to socks because you’ll lose some anyway. You’ll probably hate it all at some point. The frustration of going nowhere, the effort of going very far. Do not react — pause. Our brains have been hard-wired for a very limited selection between fight or flight for a few million years now, but we can do better. It’s our job to get that “mental software” sorted.

Be grateful. Chaos might be the new cocaine, but gratitude is the new marijuana.

And love. Because this all ends, one way or the other.

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