Photographic Memories

I took a lot of photos on the Camino Frances last October and November. Many were crappy, but there were a few really nice ones each day. I wasn’t using a special camera, just my iPhone, but I felt pretty proud about some of those shots.

When I got home, I moved all of the photos off of my phone, and into a folder on my desktop. When I got a new computer, I moved that folder into the cloud. I kept telling myself that I’d get to organizing those photos “tomorrow or the next day,” but it’s been months now, and I haven’t even opened the folder to take a look over all of those memories captured on the trail. I’ve been thinking that it’s probably just another one of those things that I’m going to procrastinate over until I finally snap one day and take care of it all in one massive push. But tonight I realized that’s not the problem, at all.

I’m afraid to open that folder. I’m afraid my heart will break in two. I miss the trail. I miss the walk. I miss my connections – with the Universe, with nature, with my friends, with myself. That’s not to say that these things don’t exist here in my day-to-day, but they’re much harder to tap into in front of a computer screen. There, I belonged. Here, I’m fighting to remember that sense of belonging.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a nun. I wasn’t from a particularly religious family, so I’m not exactly sure where the idea came from, but it seemed like a pretty good option for a very long time. After I got a bit older, I gave up the idea and went about living life without a wimple. But the idea of living a solitary, contemplative life has never been far from my mind. And to tell the truth, I’m not too far from living that life right now. I spend a great deal of my time locked in my own head, thinking about what it means to be “good,” and how to be of service to those around me. I care a bit too much for the material life to make it in the monastic world, but that’s OK. I spend 50% of my time cloistered away in my little studio apartment, anyway.

The thing is, as solitary as my life may be, and as rewarding as I may find it most days, there are still times when I miss the togetherness I felt out there on the trail. I miss the simplicity of walking, and of not having to think about tomorrow’s schedule outside of the need to put one foot in front of the other.

Maybe I’m afraid that when I look at those photographs, I will lose my ability to be happy here.

But maybe that won’t happen. Maybe I’ll just be reminded of how all the things are just things, and all the places are just places, and how no matter what, I’m going to be just me, no matter my GPS coordinates.

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2 thoughts on “Photographic Memories

  1. Lynda Ziemba says:

    Love reading what’s in your heart…it’s beautiful!!

    I know exactly what you mean when talking about the photos. I worked as a Social Worker/Educator in many African countries, for many years. My heart is there. I feel as if I belong there.

    Life has changed and I no longer travel as I once did. Miss the friends I made, miss the solitude of the countryside, miss the earthy smell I love so much, and even miss the chaos of the busy cities. When I look at my beautiful photos my heart actually aches. Although I love the memories generated, the pain is sometimes too much.

    As I look forward to walking the Camino next year I often wonder…what will the inner search reveal? What questions will be answered? Will I discover my 64 years on this wonderful earth actually somehow made a difference to someone? Something? Someplace?

    Hoping you continue to post…love your words and how they express your feelings!!

    • Anna says:

      Thank you for leaving such a detailed and insightful comment. It’s nice to realize that there are other people out there on the same mental path, with the same worries and questions. Your background reminds me of one of my favorite people from the Camino, a peregrina from Seattle named Terry. She worked in Africa for many years, as well, and is actually doing her 4th Camino in a few months. She celebrated her 71st birthday while we walked together, and I often wondered if she’d been placed in my path to inspire me to greater heights. Who knows who will inspire you – and who you’ll inspire – on your walk. Buen Camino!

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