On May 31, 2019, just as the sun was beginning to rise in the sleepy town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French border, I set out on a journey that would change my life - the 779 kilometer Camino de Santiago de Compostela. I made the decision to walk the Camino one afternoon the previous fall, answering a call that began to stir from deep within my being. A calling I did not yet understand.
My life was feeling a little unsettled. My mother had passed away three years before and I'd just completed work on my first book, The Cardinal Club. In addition, I was about to turn 60 and was looking for a way to commemorate that milestone. As I took those first few steps I could not know what was to come, the people I would meet or the impact those 31 days would have on me.
As I crossed the Pyrennes, traversed the lush vineyards of Rioja or wandered the stone villages of Galicia I would have the opportunity to meet a cast of characters who would open their hearts and lives to me. They would teach me lessons about the things that truly mattered, like generosity, kindness, courage and resilience and the reminder to be present in every moment. To take like as it comes because we can never know what is coming around the corner.
Despite evidence to the contrary, I do not think of myself as a particularly courageous soul. I am not content to bask in my accomplishments nor do I spend much time tooting my own horn. I wasn't raised that way. I was taught to downplay my successes. To steer clear of vanity. I was raised to be humble. So, as I sit down to write this, I hope you'll forgive me for saying something completely out of character here, but I feel the need to tell you that 779 kilometers is a long way to walk - and I walked every single step...
...As you travel along with me on my journey, I invite you to take the opportunity to explore the spaces around you. Notice the way the sunshine peaks peek through the leaves of the dogwood tree. Listen to the gentle whirr of the wings of the hummingbird. Smell the salt in the sea air. Use your senses. Pay attention to the things that we are often too busy to see. To hear. To smell. Let them take you inward. See where the path leads you.