The soft whisper of the wind spoke to me as if it were an unexpected gift. I slowed down, could hear the soft beating of my heart and listened to the waves in the distance. I was so close to the sea, I could feel the salt in the air. The fog was already touching my face as late autumn clouds rolled in from the West. I could see the waves pick up speed and crash sharply against the rocks on either side of the shoreline. It was the beginning of November and I thought it was the end of my journey. However, I would later come to find, it was just the beginning in more ways than I knew.
After walking about 550 miles across Spain, this is the moment we had all been waiting for: to hear the ocean, to let our tired soles to touch the soft sand, to dip our feet in the cold, North Atlantic waters.
This wasn’t my first time at the ocean on that shoreline. In fact, it was my third. I had arrived to Finisterre for the first time a couple of days prior. I didn’t arrive alone either. I had a friend with me. Her name was Judy and she was from Egypt. I thought I would try to walk 50 kilometers that day, attempting to go the entire way alone. I was beginning to lose hope that I would ever get there before nightfall. I hadn’t seen anyone for hours and finally, I saw a girl sitting along the side of the path, examining her blisters. Hope. We began to talk and it turned out she was trying to do the same thing. She was also beginning to lose faith. She sat along the side of the path to take a nap and when she awoke, here I was. Hope.
We became close friends before she had to leave the next day. We spoke about Rumi, her life in Egypt, her family, and so much more. I still think about her, especially when someone brings up 40 Rules of Love. She told me it was her dream to make it into a film one day. I really hope she does.
When Judy left Finisterre a day later, I was filled with that space again. Certain moments along the path, I had felt fear in the form of loneliness, but most moments it was pure bliss. It was solitude and silence. It was the quiet rustling of the trees, the glimmer of the sun, the crunching of my boots along the dirt path and my gentle breathing.
Finisterre, also known as the end of the earth to pilgrims who had walked the Camino de Santiago in the Medieval times, was where pilgrims burned their clothes (since they were usually bed bug infested). However, overcome with my own solitude, after a couple of days, I decided to move forward to Muxia, a little town that later became the end of the path. Unsure if this was the end of my journey, I arrived to Muxia, stayed there for two days, and walked the 30 kilometers back to Finisterre.
In Muxia, there is a peak at the top of a hill (pictured above). It has beautiful rocks to sit where you can see the north, south, east, and west. For two mornings, I arrived before sunrise and watched the sun rise beyond the ocean. I stayed for hours, letting the time pass by through reflections, meditations, and journaling. Before I knew it, 6 or 7 hours had passed, and it was too late to walk back to Finisterre. Finally, after speaking with a gentleman from Germany for a couple of hours, I spent the rest of the day wandering the town and finally decided to walk back the next morning.
As I arrived back to Finisterre, it didn’t feel like the end. Rather, it felt like something new was coming. In those moments, who I was was not linked to a series of external identities I had accumulated over my lifetime. Who I was was finally free of boxes and constraints. Now, a little over a year later, I continue to learn the gift of knowing one self, dark shadows and all. I continue to learn the value of knowing oneself beyond accomplishment, salary, and material possessions. I continue to learn from the rhythms of nature. Above all, I continue to allow myself to feel it all: the good and bad, the beautiful and ugly. At the end of the day, I learned, it all comes and goes like a wave. Sometimes the wave crashes more sharply against the rocks than the others, but nevertheless, it always dissipates into the ocean again.