One of the many great things about walking the Camino de Santiago was being in the presence of people from all walks of life who came to Spain from every corner of the world. It seemed to me that the Camino was an equalizer of all people. On the Way, people are not defined by their religion, age, occupation, or wealth. We all slept in the same room and nobody had a gold-plated backpack. The more time I spent with my new friends, the more I realized how similar we all are as human beings. Out problems with relationships, finances, health, and mortality are all universal, as are the common denominators that unlock our enjoyment of happiness. From the first step, we felt like a large family walking each other home with unconditional love.
Last week, I was on vacation with my best friends in McCall, Idaho. This family embraces me as one of their own including unfettered access to their mountain condo. Our paths crossed in the late nineties. During the past twenty years, we have pedaled thousands of miles on bikes, shared hundreds of meals, and exposed our deepest secrets. I am a vicarious parent to their two daughters and have enjoyed watching them morph from lanky junior high athletes into beautiful young ladies.
My friend’s parents spent a lifetime scrubbing floors, cleaning schools, and painting churches to provide for their children. They scripted a life that allowed my friends to obtain a college education and climb the ladders in their respective technology careers. Instead of imposing a similar lifestyle on their daughters, my pals have provided their children with a stage to excel in their own unique journeys. That stage was provided without conditions.
The youngest daughter followed a “traditional” path including lots of school, a marriage, a pregnancy, a divorce, and a thriving career in the medical world. She is truly kicking ass and taking names. No matter the need, she received unconditional parental support to cultivate her own life choices. My friends were in heaven last weekend when they babysat their only grandchild.
The older daughter pursued a more spiritual lifestyle with tremendous emphasis on enjoying the current moment and not much worry about the future. She recently resigned her food server position to devote full time energy to design, produce, and market her own line of jewelry. She joined us over the weekend where she set up shop in the lakeside community to market her wares at the local craft show. The business model is alluring because her entire raw, work-in-process, and finished goods inventory fits neatly in a two-foot square cardboard box. She is in the process of refurbishing a teardrop trailer and has dreams of traveling the country and selling her art at similar fairs. The beautiful part of this story is that she does not yet have a car.
Instead of forcing the next generation to live our unlived lives, I cannot imagine how wonderful this world would be is we all gave similar unconditional love and support to our children. It is the elixir that we all desire. On the Camino, a lyric from my music player stood out for me. In his song, Unconditional Love, Tupac Shakur expressed how I felt about this topic. “(What y’all want?) Unconditional Love (no doubt). Talking ’bout the stuff that don’t wear off. It don’t fade. It’ll last for all these crazy days.”