I’m here in Leon on a rest day. It’s just about the end of the meseta… and I’ve learned much already. The Meseta is a region of flat land in the middle of the Camino. They say the first section through the pyrenees and the rolling vineyards and fields of Navarre and Rioja test your physical strength. The Meseta is the second part of the Camino- and they say it tests your mental resolve.
The beginning of the Meseta, I was feeling wonderful. I did 4 days worth of walking in 3 days. I felt invincible. 30 km? No problem! This long legged person is walking 6km/hour? Heck, i can do that! This whole thing is flat, what could it hurt?
…Well, it could hurt a lot haha. By the halfway point of the Meseta (and the Camino), I was hobbling with 2 new blisters (named Jim and Larry), had to stop in an albergue early and was all alone there that night- horrifying for an extrovert. I had to learn how to slow down, to accept that I could only do at most the average amount of walking, and that I am bad at listening to my body. It’s funny how the least physically challenging part of the Camino seemed to take the most out of me. I got to the last town yesterday night feeling broken as I had been ambushed by a horizontal hailstorm that made my unprotected legs (ha. i was wearing shorts) numb with cold and pain.
I’ve had to accept that I am amazing at conquering mountains… I can handle long climbs uphill and steep downhills- but I am horrible at figuring out what to do in the calm flatness of the terrain- and life. It really is an analogy of my life- I shine the most when faced with adversity in ministry- but when things get flat or calm, I am unsure what to do with all that energy. I have burnt myself out trying to have fun. I have fallen into depression on those calm days of rest, and swing the pendulum towards extreme lethargy.
But on the second half of the Meseta, I had to learn to slow down. I had to learn to stop trying to compare, and to let go of my F.O.M.O. of those who go faster and ahead of me. I have to learn to listen to my own mortality and surrender my pursuit of being invincible. At the same time, I have learned determination- not just to sit down in despair because of a painful blister and give up the whole endeavor- but to stop, rest, eat a meal, sleep, and try again the next day, even if it is just a few kilometers. Finally, I’m learning to forgive myself for taking it easy- and allowing myself to take the bus if I need to once or twice :)- to rest in the short term so that I can keep going for the next two weeks.
Honestly, it’s really simple and straight-forward… but sometimes, simple and straight-forward are the hardest things to learn :).