"The Camino gives you many gifts. The first, is humility. Leave who you think you are. You will find it on the Camino." That's what the alburgue owner tells us, like some French yoda, in the dimly lit, wooden building. We are in St-Jean-Pied-De-Port, France, and tomorrow we begin the Camino. We'll cross the Pyrenees towards Roncesvalles, a hard first day.
The alburgue owner took one look at my pack and told me it as too heavy. "You don't know how much film equipment I'm carrying," I wanted to say. But facts are facts. I can't cross the mountains with this much weight. No one can.
The whole crew sat in our shared room, making a pile of things to throw away or send home. Any dead weight has to go to make room for the film equipment, the reason we're here.
I looked at my books. I didn't want to go on this journey without any of them. I wanted to be filled with the thoughts of Rilke, find inspiration in the philosophy of Donald Miller for my interviews. They were writers who I loved, storytellers who I wanted to emulate.
But I had to give them up. I have to trust that this journey will impact me as a storyteller enough that I don't need their words. And I love words. Words are what I depend on, and being in a country where the native language is not my own has already humbled me, because even as my Spanish improves, I cannot engage in conversation like I do in the states. I am thankful for the fluency of those I travel with, but that doesn't take away the frustrations at myself for my current lack of verbal smoothness. When your strengths suddenly seem less strong, what do you find comfort in?
Sitting here, writing, the words of French Yoda seem less hokey. Humility might be a gift I get begrudgingly right now. But we'll see what new words I find as I step out, freer every day.