A few weeks ago, I bought a one-way ticket to Spain. On September 3rd, I will start my 500-mile journey hiking the Camino de Santiago.
In the last year, I have found myself feeling stagnant, and disconnected from the things that had given me purpose up until now. I’ve been feeling the need for a transition creeping up on me for some time. While I wasn’t quite sure what the next step was going to be, and I’m still not sure what the next step will be. I knew that it was time to leave Alabama, and I knew that if I didn’t listen that I would be knowingly choosing to remain in a place where I was no longer growing. I completely own that pause in my growth, but I also own the choice to do something about it.
For the past couple of years, I’ve known that walking the Camino was something that I had to do. I first discovered the trail while reading the Prologue (for the first time) of my favorite book, the Alchemist (which I read annually). Every time I read the Alchemist I learn something about myself. When I read that the author, Paulo Coelho, was inspired to write the book after completing his walk on the Camino, I was immediately filled with a jolt of excitement to do it myself. Almost simultaneously, my high school French teacher, Mr. Allen, began to share his plans on Facebook for his return to the Camino. He has also played a significant role in planting the traveling seed in my path. From the moment I read that Prologue, I’ve seen Camino signs everywhere. (Yes, it’s probably because I was looking for them, but humor me.)
It just became a part of me. I don’t ever remember wanting to do it, and not thinking that it was something I could do. I only remember wondering when I was going to make it happen. So when I started to feel this innate urge to make a transition, my heart said, “Let’s go.” This is something I’ve been planning and saving to do for several years now, so even though my plans are open-ended, I’ve put some thought behind them. It certainly won’t get any easier for me to get up and go than it is right now. I’m the only person I’m responsible for. No pets, no kids, no partner, (although I am paying on my student loans, they’re just an extension of me at this point). I don’t own anything larger than my 12-year-old Camry, and she’ll be here when I get back.
I also need to acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege, or the ability, to just pick up and go, or even to plan and save for a few years and go. I’m carefully reminding myself of this, and the importance of staying humble and grateful for the opportunities that have allowed me to make this choice.
I want my students, and my future children, to see those harebrained ideas don’t have to stay ideas. I’m not 100% sure what I’ll do when I am done walking, but I know that I have to go. Maybe I’ll turn around and go back the other way. Maybe I’ll have to surf a few couches. Maybe I’ll go back into the classroom in a new city that allows me to grow. Maybe I’ll make a professional shift and spend Christmas break applying for jobs. I could quite possibly work at Target for a bit when I run out of money. The only thing I know that I won’t be doing is wondering what would’ve happened if I didn’t go.