While walking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago, there was a constant stream of people entering and exiting my life. I do not believe in the random nature of these occurrences and feel that there is a lesson to be learned or shared with each person. The immediate bonds with fellow pilgrims created a feeling of one big family walking each other home to Santiago.
In today’s busy world, there are still strangers that cross my path on a regular basis. I’ve made a cognizant effort to treat these events just like meeting a fellow pilgrim in Spain. For those that do not know me well, I am a gym rat. Over the years, I have developed many great friendships with fellow members and employees. My newest friend is Amy.
Amy stands about 5’6″ and cannot weigh more that 100 pounds. Her wiry shoulder length hair passes her shoulders and the bangs form a straight line to frame an aging face. Three towels hang from her pockets and she pumps a spray bottle a few thousand times per day. I introduced myself a few months ago, but never took the time to listen to her unique story.
During the Christmas shopping season, I ran into Amy at a bookstore. She was buzzing through the store with a pile of books under each arm and had a most content look on her face. I asked if they were gifts and she replied, “Hell no, I love to read!” I made a mental note and gave her a copy of my book a few days later. Her appreciation and smile sent a warm feeling through my body.
She devoured the book in a day and sought me out at the gym. With a king sized grin, she began a tale about how journeys changed her life. Reflecting back on her best of times, she reminisced about five cross country journeys in her car with children.
I interjected that one of my favorite parts of being on the Camino was the slowness of walking. She smiled and said, “I can totally relate, a burned out VW van cannot muster 40 MPH, so I drove the roads less traveled at my pace.” With barely a dime, campgrounds became her Hiltons. Once a week, she splurged for a dingy motel. The shower cleaned the body, the sink unstank their clothes, and the road washed her soul.
One of my favorites was to watch her face light up as she told me about an unexpected turn on “Crazy Woman”. She came across the road in Montana and told the kids, “Not sure where this goes, but we are driving to the end.” These moments built the best of bonds with her children and are the foundations for her best memories in life.
Remember to reach out to a stranger, buckle up, and get ready to learn a great lesson!