A wonderful news story in the Irish Times reported that Michael Flannery was on trial for causing a motor vehicle collision while under the influence. In response to the judge’s question, Mr. Flannery said, “Well, to be sure, your honor, there were a great many observers at the scene, but I don’t think there were any witnesses.”
His comment fits how people approach their own lives and experiences. They observe them; but they don’t absorb the details, the atmosphere or their own reactions well enough to be able to report on them later. I know that has often been the pattern in my life. I visit some impressive art museum or historical site and afterwards I can’t describe to myself or anyone else what I really saw or felt. That sense of detachment shows up when we go to a movie and someone asks us the next day, “How was it?” My response is usually something like, “It was okay,” or “It was pretty good.” Perhaps a short, neutral response is polite, not wanting to burden the listener with details. But what I think is at play, at least for me, is a failure to internalize my own experiences.
That’s why this blog is about following the inner journey. Having decided to walk 500 miles to get to a place I’ve never seen before, it would feel natural and proper to dive into all the preparations that have to be made, for there are many. But I want to pull my attention back from an uncertain future experience to the present moment. I was reading a forum question about El Camino online today and an inquirer asked, “What will I feel like on the 16th day of my pilgrimage?” I connected immediately with the question because that is how my thinking mind operates. But it is the wrong question aimed at the wrong time of the journey.
My ponderings are about what is happening to me today; about what I notice in myself and the world around me as I walk along the roadway. To get to that point, I will share with you next time how this intention to walk the Camino of St. James took over my life this year.