A life

Santiago de Compostela street. Photo by Steve Martaindale

We’re approaching the final week of our one-month visit to Spain. We arrived with no more of an agenda than to simply explore what we could, greatly relying on serendipity to provide. While those explorations have been principally in our host’s hometown of Valencia, we’ve made a few trips out, including an overnight visit to Santiago de Compostela.

But I’m not doing a travel guide piece.

I mention Santiago to introduce the 2010 film “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez.

But neither am I doing a movie review.

Instead, let’s look at two lines from early in the movie.

Sheen’s character, Tom, learns his son died in an accident in France. Tom has not been happy with his son because he dropped out of school to personally experience life around the planet. Speaking to his assistant while leaving for France to claim his son’s remains, Tom says with some resignation, “He wanted to see the world.”

In the most comforting manner possible, she replies, “And he did.”

Dreams are like that

The weight of that exchange didn’t really hit me the first few times I saw the movie, but it’s truly an encapsulation of Tom’s transformation over the weeks he spent walking the Camino de Santiago – a centuries-old pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. (Now the beginning makes sense, right?)

Do you identify with those lines?

“He wanted to see the world.”

“And he did.”

Tom did not understand what his son really wanted, so he thought Daniel had failed. In truth, his son had been fulfilling his dreams all the while his father was disapproving. He was seeing, experiencing, influencing the world.

When Leah and I sold our house almost 11 years ago, bought an RV and set about following our dreams, there were many people who did not understand, some who even, indeed, disapproved. I think a large percentage of those might better appreciate why we’re still living this life that may seem strange to them. If not, we’re OK with it; we don’t expect or need everyone to accept it.

Let’s close with another exchange from the movie that helps explain our decision. Tom has just spent his first night in a hostel, known on the trail as an alberque. After the woman stamped his Camino passport, he asked, “Have you ever walked the Camino, señora?”

“Never,” she replied. “When I was young, I was too busy. And now that I’m older, I’m too tired.”


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