Yesterday I traveled 50 kms by car, 35 kms by train, and more than 8000 kms by plane. It took me just under 18 hours in fits-and-starts of waiting to board high-speed modes of transportation to arrive in Chicago. That’s a stark contrast to the last month in which I walked 550 kms in 25 days—just over a half-marathon each day. I’m struck by how different these experiences of travel were and how poignant the metaphor for moving through life.
Each leg of my journey yesterday was meticulously planned based on exact arrival/departure times. At the airport, I joined the elbow-to-elbow crowds of people waiting in line and avoiding eye-contact or personal interaction. Airport lines have a way of blending stagnation with rushed anxiety to meet check-in deadlines.
I then spent hours in a tightly packed space moving at inhumanly high speeds to most efficiently arrive at a specific destination. While flying, the only way to know where you are in time and space is a map with the remaining travel time on the digitized screen. Movies were available to help distract us and numb us to the environment. Once we finally arrived at the end of the 9-hour flight, there was a collective sigh of relief as folks went to collect their bags or catch their connections.
My weeks walking the Camino de Santiago were only vaguely destination-oriented and efficiency was never a consideration. The joy of the experience grew out of the journey itself: each day was unique, planning was minimal, progress was slow and steady. Travel unfolded in an organic way and with a sense of mystery. A huge part of the experience was shaped by those with whom I interacted—and there were so many since we were all genuinely curious and receptive to engaging with our fellow-travelers.
While I’m glad to be back to the security and comfort of home, the trip here was strictly one of necessity. I hope that security and comfort aren't my primary goals in life and I pray that necessity will never become my purpose for living.