A Reflection Day: I am sitting in Tanja’s apartment while she is at work, reflecting on the last five weeks of travel. Access to good WiFi is a great privilege, one I appreciate more than ever since there has not always been easy access on this trip. I will not list again all the people who have fulfilled my central purpose in traveling by allowing me into their lives for a moment or a day or more. This trip has provided beautiful sights, beautiful people, character-building challenges and both physical and mental exercise. I am always about the relationships to the people, the physical environment and a complete immersion in the moment I am in, whoever or whatever happens to occupy that moment with me.
The consequence of experiencing each moment fully is that feelings about what the moment contains are also fully engaged. When I write I am forthcoming with those feelings. You hear the good, the bad and the ugly whether you care to hear them or not. As I have said ad nauseam, if I want to experience the exhilarations that life offers, I need to be willing to allow the frustrations and stresses their place also for life to be rich and layered and vibrant. I remember once when reflecting on the most difficult times that Mary Ann and I were experiencing together in those last years, recognizing that we were not just watching life go by, we were living it from top to bottom, side to side, corner to corner. We were not sitting on the sidelines, we were on the field in the thick of the game with all the risks, running, getting tackled, regrouping and running again. (Yes, I am thinking American football – you can choose your own metaphor.)
The life I have now cannot compare to the magnificence of the life Mary Ann and I had in those last years. I cannot imagine accomplishing anything more important and valuable than what we experienced during those years. Measured against them, what I do now seems trivial. Having said that, I am not finished yet. I suppose I am still searching. The people I meet come to be very important to me quickly, more important than they realize. Where I could make a huge difference in Mary Ann’s life during our life together, I can make only a small difference just for a few minutes or hours in the lives of the people I meet along the way. I can celebrate and appreciate music and beauty in all its forms. Using the Camino as metaphor, walking 800 kilometers on foot, carrying a backpack toward Santiago (except for the day I was lost!), reaching the destination is not as important as the people and places experienced along the way. I celebrate so much the people I met on the Camino, especially my Camino Kids, Dragan (and Slavica), Tanja and Laida. During the last month they and I have talked together about what is important in life including the challenges.
Central to my life now is living in a way that honors my Children, Lisa and Micah, and my Grandchildren, Chloe, Abigail and Ashlyn (as well as Dad Denis and Mom Rebecca). Their love and respect are vital for me. I celebrate that each of them has my love and respect without reservation. The future for me remains a mystery, no bucket list, just the expectation that there will be marvels and wonders yet to come, ones that I can put in the bucket after I discover them and experience them. All of you whom I have come to know and who bother to read this are already in my bucket, whether you like it or not. Don’t worry, there are no expectations that come with being there, only hopes that you will thrive and grow and experience life fully.