May 9th, 2014: Today was Day 8… Oh the Pain, Oh the Agony

By Eric

No Pain, No Gain… Easier Said Than Done

I’m a big Elvis Costello fan- I’m an even bigger Shannon Lynberg fan. She’s my fiancé; my future wife; my soul mate; my best friend. But sometimes life is hard, and when it is hard on Shannon, it breaks my heart.

We are currently on our second day of rest in Arudy, France. These two days of rest are on the heels (so that we may heal!) of our first two grueling days of hiking.

One of my favorite songs by Elvis Costello is “She.” I’d like to give full credit to Mr. Costello for the video and lyrics below for succinctly encapsulating my thoughts about Shannon over the last two days.

May be the face I can’t forget
The trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
May be the song that summer sings
May be the chill that autumn brings
May be a hundred different things
Within the measure of a day

Two GIGANTIC days of hiking- fraught with painful and tedious challenges. Oh my, where to begin? Was it the fact that each of us was carrying (AT LEAST!) 17 pounds too much weight? Was it the fact that by beginning El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Lourdes, a hike most popularly started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, it meant there would be extremely limited signage concerning El Camino? Was it the fact that by beginning in Lourdes, the distances between villages were greater than many of the distances along El Camino in Spain, and therefore, we were not allowed to begin with baby steps, and instead began with 30 kilometer/18.6 mile days? Or was it the fact that based on the limited signage, already, in just the first two days of hiking, we have gotten lost several times?

One of those times was on our second day. After hiking 12 of almost 30 kilometers, on our way from Lestelle-Bétharram to Asson to Arudy, we arrived at an intersection with two possibilities. The correct direction towards Asson was unmarked, and apparently only 1 kilometer away. Instead, we chose incorrectly to hike 6 kilometers up a mountain, in the wrong direction, towards an industrial mining facility. And those 6 kilometers in the wrong direction meant one stark reality- we had 6 kilometers to make it back to the starting point of our original mistake.

By the time we made it back to our starting point, we had hiked about 24 kilometers, with backpacks that were painfully heavy (something we now know we have to remedy!), and we still had 18 kilometers left to hike! In the end, it simply would not have been possible to continue hiking to Arudy- it would have been an 11 hour and 42 kilometer hike! So we got creative, and we hitch-hiked. It took three generous drivers to finally get us to our destination, and we were beat up but grateful.

May be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a heaven or a hell
She may be the mirror of my dreams
The smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside her shell

Was it possibly the fact that neither of us was physically or emotionally prepared to take on El Camino, easily likened to a new parent being equally unprepared both physically and emotionally to take on the birth of a new child. Some things in life just have no expected amount of learning curve. Some experiences simply have to be initiated half blindly, half prepared, and with a sense of courageous adventure that terrifies you all the same.

Who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one’s allowed to see them when they cry
May be the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
That I’ll remember till the day I die

So we jumped in, unprepared, as a baby taking that first breath, ready to take on the world, or that parent, taking that first sigh, ready to take on this new life. El Camino is that for us. And boy were we unprepared, but man was it exciting. I mentioned in yesterday’s post, that we had too much weight in our packs. I mentioned we both knew that first step would be painful. Who knew the last two days could have been as difficult to swallow as they ended up being. To put it mildly, our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain beginning in Lourdes, France was a baptism by fire. But I believe it was a baptism that we fully needed. We were beat up in more than one way, and one of us almost quit entirely! But it gave us just enough push to allow us to dig deep within and push back- push back and towards that challenge that beckoned us.

We’ve been metaphorically baptized now on this pilgrimage into the unknown, but the challenges are now slightly less unknown. Now we simply have to make appropriate adjustments, buck up, and keep going.

**Disclaimer!! Shannon does not usually curse very much, but you will hear some colorful words in this video. I believe it exemplifies the extreme state of mind she was in, and how difficult the last two days truly were.**

May be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I’m alive
The one I’ll care for through the rough in ready years
I’ll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I’ve got to be
The meaning of my life is

She, oh she

Distance: 26,039 Steps/13.5 Miles/21.72 Kilometers
Location: From Lestelle-Bétharram, France to Arudy, France

Feeling inspired by our journey? Please consider donating to The Passport Party Project. Your contribution will help 10 young girls, get their first passport and go on their first international trip! Go here to donate and find out more.


2 Responses to May 9th, 2014: Today was Day 8… Oh the Pain, Oh the Agony

  1. kathleen courvie says:

    Oh my gosh! So glad you got rid of the baggage and so glad i learned to speak spanish now! after reading yalls blog i think my trip is going to be harder than planned and i need to get off my butt and walk more! Keep going you got this! Buen camino!

  2. Eileen W. Eisner says:

    That song is beautiful! That video was heartbreaking. I would have probably just stepped out in front of one if those big trucks. I wondered why no one told y’all too! Praying for strength for both of you !!!

Leave a reply