"Love not only prefers the good of another to my own, but it does not even compare the two. It has only one good. That of the Beloved, which is, at the same time, my own…For love does not seek a joy that follows from its effect: its joy is in the effect itself, which is the good of the beloved. Consequently, if my love be pure I do not even have to seek for myself the satisfaction of loving. love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward."
There’s a level of travel that you can achieve wherein you almost cease to exist as you have been known to yourself. I don’t mean it as in a feeling of meaningless, or emptiness, but a sort of new kind of existence takes place. You become just particles in motion, closer in frequency to a ghost or something. You might think what I’m writing is crazy, and if you do, I suggest you grab a backpack and hit the road for a while. And when your body says it’s time to go home, don’t. Just keep going. I promise you there’s a high on the other side more memorable and beautiful than you can imagine.
I haven’t thought about travel in a conceptual way for quite a while. But this brings me back to the hills of Spain on the road to Santiago de Compostella.
It’s been nearly a year since I set out with some friends on the Camino for 350 miles of northern spanish countryside, 22 days, and nothing but a pack with the essentials for survival and usually a couple cans of tuna and a loaf of bread. It hurt. Each day was a painful reminder of humble mortality and the great distances that many walk the world over. And usually it’s not for self-realization or an inward journey. It usually because they have to in order to survive.
But I know this sentiment all too well. It’s similar to what most would call an out-of-body experience. You can almost watch yourself in a third person narrative because you can articulate and visualize your reactions to a great number of challenges; blockades and looming realities that either haunt you physically (wretched blisters in my case over the walk to Santiago) or spiritually (longing for a sense of home, loved ones, never knowing where you’ll actually lay your head down at night, or even loneliness). you could be in a crowded city that never seems to sleep and you’d still feel more utterly alone than those serene miles across corn fields and feudal villages.
Just a ghost of yourself and never really doing much except reacting to things that come your way. bare minimum for survival. bared for maximum heartbeat.
The Alleged Danger From the Powers of the Union to the State Governments Considered
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State."
It’s pretty profound what comfort a human face can do for the soul. We love photographs because they shelve the people we miss over time. In one cathartic instant those who we long for can come back to us. If it’s even just a glimpse of the familiar, the comfortable, the recognizable love in our life—without which I might just feel like a stranger in this world.
But it’s also funny that a framed photograph, at our bedside, on our desks, or lining our empty walls can lose their novelty after a while. It’s not unlike what we do with the relationships in our lives. We love and cherish it at first, not a day goes by without taking a good hard look at it and reconnecting with something. But then over time it becomes an accessory to overlook. A relationship that becomes stagnant. O save me from that.
Distance will remind me everyday the ways I will never take things for granted. Laying here in my bed on a cool Pt Loma morning—the lonely gray kind where the birds don’t seem half as excited for the day to begin as they usually do—I know I have promises to keep. I have a life I’m meant to live and people I’m never meant to take for granted.
The faces of people I love are sacred to me.
My hands mean nothing to me unless I can serve people with them. Or hold the hands of the girl I love. My eyes mean nothing unless I can be reminded of the faces that look back at me—waiting for my life to be something more than what it is. My words mean nothing without that life to be for others, or the words to whisper. My heart means nothing unless it beats with the Sacred Heart for compassion in this bent and crippled world.
I rarely feel at home. But still I can’t wait for you to come back to it.