Having a Shouldy Day
Part of Walking the Camino experience is having chats with other peregrinos as we trek along the 500 mile route to Santiago in northern Spain. One of the great phrases that came to me from one of my many companions burst into life when she asked me if I was having a “shouldy day”.
The intention, of course, is for it to be said in its more familiar form which I will not include.
As one walks the Camino, the days become quite simple. The routine is: left foot, right foot, left foot right foot and so forth. Any other configuration puts you back into the normal life of walking in circles.
Stress becomes a distant memory. The pre-occupation with supporting the many, many “shoulds” that have infested our lives to the point that they have become our reason for living has faded into black. In fact, all of life fades away, even the day of the week, the date, the last village and even which part of the movie “The Way” we are currently acting out!
Life has become so simple. It has only 2 rules. Left foot right foot over and over and follow the yellow arrows or you will get lost.
Sometimes, however, especially as you cross through the Meseta, the flat middle part of the walk, the “shoulds” rear their ugly heads. “Aha” they think. There is nothing else for you to think about, so here we are. Think about this! They say!
Through the quiet, they roar back into life. For a moment, you are back home living in the exquisite joy of having “shouldy days”. The heart races, the mind gets filled up, the breath gets tight and shallow.
But you are a veteran of the Camino by this time. You watch the “shoulds” come up just like watching your favourite episode of “The Trailer Park Boys”. You continue walking watching your feet to make sure you are in fact doing it right. Left foot, right foot. Eventually the episode ends, you smile and take another step.
The “shoulds” no longer have a hold on you. They are just another illusion that has bit the dust.
By the end of the Meseta, three quarters of the way through Walking the Camino, you cannot even remember what the word “should” means. You just remember: left foot, right foot and life is bliss.
How will life be when we return to the world where we are constantly reminded that our list of “shoulds” is there to be completed asap?
I think the challenge will be for the “shoulds” not for us, for we have learned how to live life without them.
A “shouldy” day will be a momentary adjustment as we quickly remember that the rules of life belong in this moment, not based on dredged and putrified memories erupting from a dysfunctional and very dead past.