This has been the year of pilgrim films. First there was The Way. The Way is a story of a father (Martin Sheen) that walks the Camino de Santiago with his son’s (Emilio Estevez) ashes, from Saint Jean de Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.
Then there was the true story of Oscar Nominated Wild, directed by Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) and starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon (Best Actress Nomination). It is based on Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling memoir by the same name. Strayed’s story chronicles her experience of confronting a destructive path her life had taken by embarking on a solo trek covering 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada.
Then there was Tracks where a young woman goes on a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her faithful dog.
This was closely followed by another Camino way movie, Walking the Camino, 6 ways to walk to Santiago, 500 miles on foot. This is a profile of six pilgrims again taking the Camino De Santiago pilgrimage.
Not to be outdone, Bill Bryson then attempts the Appalachian Way. After spending two decades in England, Bill Bryson returns to the U.S., where he decides the best way to connect with his homeland is to hike the Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends.
See what I mean? None of them really moved me. Most of them put me off, snoring, farting, smelly dorm mates, everyone “finding themselves”. The Camino Way looked like a major highway. There seemed to be so many people tramping up and down it.
In the last half hour I finished my book club book, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. I loved it. Of course it was fiction but it was a great story with a really satisfying conclusion. Harolds’ pilgrimage takes him from the South of England to the north and while he does do some “finding”, mostly he doesn’t bore us by telling us about it. I found it compelling and ultimately very moving.
Maybe books do it better. Fiona Farrell’s, The Broken Book, documents, among other things, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.
I have been set to thinking about the walking thing. Almost everyone became aware that they were carrying too much stuff and actually we really don’t need much stuff.
This is of concern to someone like me, who adores my stuff. I love having my paintings, candles, memories, flowers, colours, linen duvets and sheets, fluffy towels, lavender oil, my buttons and yarns box, knitting needles, good kitchen knives, china cups, and on it goes, around me. Some are valuable, most are not. I worry that I might finally take possession of my house, fill it with stuff and still feel empty and lonely. I’m pretty sure the expensive storage locker I am paying for each month is full of crapola.
i am determined that I will put in my “must haves” and leave the rest in the garage until I decide whether to keep or throw. I did throw out a lot of books, clothes and stuff when I got the house ready to sell and it felt good to unburden myself of junk. There is nothing that I regret or have need of so far.
I do think there is pleasure in having a calm and lovely bedroom to rest in at the end of each day. Of course the “lovely” is entirely an individual thing. I guess I am a nester, a home-body, a stay-at- homer. I hate cleaning though, and know that the well-ordered pantry I imagine, will be in disarray within days.
Still, there is the walking thing. It has been brewing in the back of my mind for a long time now. I don’t know where to or even why but I suspect that doesn’t matter much as long as I put one foot in front of the other. What will matter is the accommodation, I’m sorry to say I will not stay in backpackers or in a dorm, I value my privacy far too much!
I would like to hear from you about the walks you have taken and why. Meanwhile I am back to my library books and candles and knitting and day dreaming of my orderly pantry….. FG