It’s the most awful thing you never thought you’d do. That’s the catalyst I want you to get comfortable with and severely uncomfortable with all at the same time.

You never thought you’d eat someone else’s restaurant remains until you stomach aches so badly you know you must eat something to survive.

You are pond scum. Not Darwin’s scum that grew life from the disgusting stagnant water no one will bathe in, but lower than life. When you don’t deserve to live, but live is the very thing you must do…

What do you do then?

You must move, live, eat, breathe in ways you never imagined possible.

Gum on the sole of someone’s shoe is better than you. You’ve been stomped through a mud-puddle, bathed in someone’s excrement, and you want nothing more than a chance at dignity.

You are worthy of nothing. You deserve nothing. You are good for nothing. You are worse than pond scum. The very thing that gives life to the ugliest creatures is better than you.

What are you willing to do when death seems better than life?

This is exactly how we felt at times during our hike of El Camino de Santiago.

It is the best character-building experience of a lifetime and I recommend everyone go on the adventure.

Have an adventure, they say…

It’ll be fun they say…

Nicole Akers’ pic while on the El Camino trail

Backpack 500 miles across Spain and you will be a changed individual. Leave the dog behind at Grandma’s. Grandma’s is a treat. Grandma will spoil you with treats and every “good” thing that should never enter your body. Grandma’s house is a fairy tale and no treats are on this trail.

This path has everything you never knew you needed. It has the gumption to survive, not just live. It’s the survivalist’s essential kit to life.

There is wisdom in this journey.

Keep going-never quit

When you think you are at your wit’s end and can’t take another step you are wrong. You aren’t just wrong, you’ve diluted your very existence. When everything says “you can’t” and it’s not dark yet and the next Albergue is full and the bed you seek is playing hide-and-go-seek, you must go on. The Titanic version is cheap and romanticized in comparison to this. Your heart will go on after you die, and die you must, but not today. Today your family and your kids are depending on you to take one more step, and one more step after that. Because if you don’t the rocks and tree coverings are your dwelling tonight. You must dig down deep and discover The Little Engine that Could attitude. If you don’t keep chugging along, then everyone suffers because of you. When you don’t want to wear that skin you move despite the pain.

Pain

Pain is weakness leaving your body. When every orifice cringes in pain and your callouses grow new skin you’ve reached a place of better. You are deliriously dehydrated. Your body aches for a bit of nourishment, but that is not all…

You have been caught behind enemy lines. You are naked, exposed, and every intimate detail is exposed. Go ahead, scream. I invite you to scream. It’s okay. They can’t hear you and no one is coming to save you. For the love of God… Who is God? You are left here to suffer. The cross? What’s that? It has blood on it and your blood is about to join it because you feel the weight of the pack, the frame, the headache from the stupidity that you ever thought you could do this. There is pain in your everything. The heel bruises pale in comparison to the stress fractures you’ve been hiking on for two days before you ever winced in pain because you must continue, or die.

Your fingernails and your toe nails have been pulled out. You’re bloodied, disfigured, hiding from the pain and to survive you must walk out, but The Way is paved with glass and you have no shoes. The delusions of pretty roads are just that…delusions. Still, you must succeed.

Nicole Akers’ picture

Don’t give up

How is it possible to succeed when all you want to do is roll over, give up, and say you never should have started this journey? You’ve told enough people that they will laugh. For God sake, your own family wanted to take your kids from you before you began. If you quit now you will be a laughing stock. Or, they’ll hate you because you finished the task. Hate is hate and how is one kind better than another? You stop caring about everyone else and live this life for you.

When the sky is cloudy and it is going to rain you must keep going. There are rainbows ahead and you’ve got to keep going — one step at a time. You must continue. Continue we did. We reached the end. We died on the hill. We suffered on the cross. We went to the pilgrim church that signified the end of the journey. And, as we arrive at church the salt of the tears we cry are bitter-sweet. The physical journey is over and the new life is beginning. I’d introduce you to the new people we are, but we don’t quite know who we are yet.

Nicole Akers’ pic- The Cathedral of Santiago de Compestuela

We have been to school and received the credentials, our degree, if you will. This container holds the awards for our family.

Nicole Akers’ picture

The actual documents are in that tube, the actual credentials that we endured the journey with our girls, ages 6 and 12.

What about you?

Have you been struggling with something, or have been on a journey of your own?