I am right now sitting in an albergue where there is one American man and a Canadian woman talking about the abortions they regretted. Hers her own and his, the love of his life who he no longer has anything to do with after he made her get an abortion.
Theyre talking about this like we would would talk about kids living, in the middle of the whole place like it is no big deal. He made her have one while they were living together, she had an illegal one in a west African country.
They are now wondering what what their lives would be like. They both just agree that they would not be here today. That much, is probably true.
The conversation then turns to crypto currency and then that's that- they leave. The Camino does weird things to people. It makes them more open - which isn't weird at all, it's just sadly too uncommon.
Today I have been humbled, in a bad way? Is there a good way? I am not sure.
The road below me with the yellow signs all pointing towards the city of the field of stars (that's what Compostela means, campo= field, estrella= star) has humbled me today.
One of the the best pieces of advice I have ever received was from a colleague that warned me that the more successful I became the more humble I needed to be. I will never forget her words to me and I have tried to live up to them on a daily basis.
Except today day I was not as much humbled as, let's say humiliated. Nothing happened to me as such, except that nothing, NOTHING, at all went my way, nothing.
I don't expect things to to go my way always, that much I have learnt. And I think that's where my (usual) calm in the face of adversity (usually) comes from. In fact, I go on through my life with the assumption and firmly held belief that nothing will go my way, because nothing has to. If it does, then hooray for me, but because I am constantly impressing on myself that nothing has to go my way because the world owes me nothing then, I get to live a life of a lot less frustration. Except today.
You see I've been on a death spiral with my bank because they accidentally cancelled my card when I needed it and now they have to reset my pin but that can only happen with them SMS'ing me a new PIN but my global roaming didn't work or wouldn't work and I have been on the phone to three off-shore offshore call centres and each costing some $1.50AUD a minute and my money supply is dwindling and FUCKING HELL.
I hate-ate a Snickers bar and I stomped, STOMPED and hate-walked my way to my hostel today. My phone battery was going flat and nothing was going right and I didn't have either my SMS or a new PIN and couldn't access my money and I was just feeling humiliated and in need of comfort and a kind face to tell me it was all going to be ok.
Then em when I got to the place where I was going they had no spare beds and I just wanted to sit and cry. They did have a sign on the entrance that said something like: "having a bad day? Me too, but smile anyway."
Fuck you sign but that's also just what I needed.
I like humility in people, in fact it's probably the defining characteristic I seek out in all my relationships. But today I jumped from being humbled to being humiliated. Not by anyone, or the bank, or the gravel beneath my feet but by life itself. Yes, nothing has to go my way but why couldn't it today? WHY COULD IT NOT GO MY WAY NOW?!?
Anyway - writing this all down has made me feel better about everything but it doesn't have me thinking about humility. No one likes being humbled by another human being or circumstance in the way I have experienced today. That feeling of powerlessness in the face of circumstance and context.
But being humbled by, say walking into the Burgos Cathedral, or by the magnanimity of a sunrise or a sunset or of walking for 700km to visit the tomb of someone who has been dead Millenia. That's a different kind of humbling, it's not powerlessness in the face of circumstance, it is humility in the face of insignificance - in a good way.
When I see the sun rise in this - the way of Saint James, I don't feel powerless because I can't stop it or angry that I would like it to be dark for longer, I feel a kind of humility in being so small and I'm the late scheme of things, insignificant. That my petty problems - that will be resolved one way or another - are just even more insignificant than I am, and that that's ok.
So where am I going with this? Nowhere really, except to say that maybe one way of dealing with the hurt caused by the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortunes is to stop, find the horizon, watch the sun set, and then the stars, and be witness to the rotation of the earth. Because if we are only specks of dust in this blue and green rock that's hurtling in space, then our problems must surely be smaller.