I have had many lessons from the Camino, likely many others I have yet to realize. One of the things I used to do is live a lot in the past. Not so much stangnating in the past, but the past meant a lot. I found it difficult to let go of the smallest thing such as a metro ticket from Madrid, a napkin from an old club, a quick note jotted down by folks etc.
I also spent some amount of time remembering things – and there is nothing wrong with that, but it does come into question when there is much time spent there. Cuenca is the perfect example of this. Along with two wonderful friends, I spent 3 summers in Cuenca. This was the first time I was out of the country, and the first time I was somewhat on my own (well, on my own with 500 other students!). It is also the first time I had a real romance with someone. Luis was my ¨boyfriend¨for the time we were in Spain, and all the time we spent, as a team of six with our respective friends, we ended up traveling to many wonderful places, and having great fun summers.
To me, and in my mind, Cuenca itself held this mysterious aura. As the years passed, I vowed to return knowing that it would likely be very different. I didn´t know really what I expected but I can tell you that returning to Cuenca was on my bucket list, for sure.
During the journey on the Camino, many many hours of thoughts and re-evaluations were spent. There were times when I did not know if my thoughts were of my own, of my subconscious or of others (whoever others could be). I do know that at any point in time, along with spontaneous moments of shere joy, of tears and of inspirations came and went like the wind.
At first, these ¨moments¨would worry me. Why? Because I wasn´t in control of them. They came and left without any involvement of my own (at least, not conscious). They would catch me by surprise and I would spend some time following these moments trying to figure things out. If you recall, I mentioned that after the Cruz de Ferro, where one is to leave something of one´s home along with one´s worries and concerns, there was a message spelled out in rocks:
This was a truly powerful message, at a power time. At the Cruz de Ferro, there was a lot going on, and I was busy focusing on the items I was leaving behind. Even after I had placed them and gave them a proper goodbye, I still hadn´t really let my emotions come out. It when I left the cross, and started to walk away that the flood came on and then I came upon this message.
That moment was a defining moment for me during my Camino. I thought about it a lot, and realized that the items we hold onto are in fact items, not the actual people or places. If we honor those items in their proper places, then that can work, but with some limitation of how many… I think with this in mind, going back to Cuenca was something I felt I absolutely wanted to do.., as well as remet the old friends. When I approached the city in the train, I realized it was totally different than what I remembered. In fact, Cuenca has almost 5 times the amount of people and many of the old places although still standing are now located away from the ¨downtown¨. Even the Casas Colgadas location used to be hard to reach and now they have built roads and walkways were the river used to flow.
What I did realize is that although I am happy to have made the trip here, it really no longer holds anything special other than being a city I lived in. My reaction to the locations was the same as those I saw in all the other cities or towns I walked through during my journey. I have come to realize that what held Cuenca in my mind was the experiences we had during our 3 summers. That was then, this is NOW!
And if there is one thing I know my mind sees differently, is the wanting to live in the NOW. The past is good for reference and to avoid making the same wrong moves, or to confirm making the right moves, but it´s not a place to live. the future is ahead – if we spend too much time there, we will miss the opportunities and wonders of today, of NOW!
Cuenca will always have a special place in my heart – or the experiences and memories we have will…
For now, I am still trying to manage the ¨post camino¨ challenges… and I look forward to enjoying Cuenca for a few more days, heading to Madrid and then home.