The Problem with You Not Being Here

The journey’s too big. Too many details are on this single line we are walking, and too many people are on this single line, and this line is too old and has too much history, and there is too much beauty on this path, and too much boredom and it’s cruel to do this, to walk it every single day and end up somewhere new every single day because every single day there will be a lifetime–consider each day a separate life, said Seneca–within this pilgrimage that is already a microcosm of a lifetime, and if I had my way, I would draw each day out threefold.

I would stretch each minute. I would live each minute and then I would process it and then I would turn it into art, like a conversation or writing or little picture or dance. Living this life without articulating it is like shaking and shaking and shaking a sealed soda.

We do little, but we do only that little, and that little we do–walk and sleep and eat–gets us across a country, from mountains to valleys to vineyards to plains to coast. And in that very little we do there are details that, if you write them down or act them out, become distillations of reality that will then have the power to endow audiences’ lives with sanctity and maybe send them off on their own pilgrimages to continue the cycle.

It’s frustrating that I can’t capture and own it all. If I name everything that happens, then I own it. If I name this town I’m in, Rabanal, and tell you I sat in a hammock today and some British people served us tea and I played an out of tune guitar and met a tall Lithuanian and a short Italian and my toes are a little cold and there is a massive garden with herbs for the taking and two copies of Stephen King’s It on the shelf…

And I wish I could show you the stars here! Not just that there are many and they are bright and the moon is there too and I pay enough attention to the sky to miss it when it’s gone, but that they are many and underneath it is a village and a wood that you would never see if you hadn’t walked here. 

If I just name all that stuff, it feels like you and I own it. But I can’t name it all. Of course we can’t own it. And I can’t share all this with you if you’re not here.


2 thoughts on “The Problem with You Not Being Here

  1. That’s how I felt when I wanted to share all that I was living in Israel for 2 years but the people I loved were not with me and I was nit able to share. I kept it inside of me and shared what I could upon my coming back . You, Chelsea, can have a blog and share it daily if you want, even if it is not the same as the sale communion you might have if we were with you…Ahhh, the “magic” of Internet !
    Anyway, I think that deep down we are ultimately alone to experience whatever we are experiencing in daily life.


  2. I loved Rabanal, maybe most of all from the first of my four Camino hikes. A bunch of us peregrinos laughed and sang and drank wine and told stories in one of the old albergues. It was magical. And in the next days hiking on from there, my body began to give out on me.


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