How The Camino Prepared Me for Social Isolation

Tomorrow, April 6th, is the eighth anniversary of the start of my Camino in St. Jean Pied de Porte. I’ve been feeling a little rusty on matters of the Camino; then Covid-19 happened. I watched two beautiful countries, Spain and Italy, which had opened their hearts to me, go into lockdown with many sick and dying. It’s heartbreaking, and I know that’s a cliché, but I have no other word.

In social isolation in Southern California, I found myself feeling calm among the uncertainty. It was okay. I could do this. I started to think about how the Camino had prepared me for Social Isolation. Naturally, I started to make a list:

1. We are still connected whether we want to be or not. On the walk, when I was feeling uncertain or unable, help would come from random people I met. I’m seeing the same thing now. People are kind.

2. Physical challenges. On the Camino, there were some physically challenging days—I’m thinking of you, Pyrenees. Now the challenge is different. I have to be still. I don’t have a gym. As of this writing, I can still walk the dog. I found a bunch a Zumba classes on You Tube. I have to find ways to keep my physical self going even though my mind wants to sit on the computer all day.

3. The Camino was a mind game at times. This is a mind game. It’s okay to feel mentally bad for a little while. Let that pass. It’s okay to be worried. Figure out what you can control and can’t control. If the big picture is too overwhelming, focus on the next step, then take it, then focus on the next step, and the next step. If it’s raining, it’s just the rain.

4. Daily habits. Stay clean, stay fed, sleep as much as you can. Do laundry. It’s the little things. There is power in a shower.

5. I’m a human on a planet full of humans. Be kind.

Be well, be happy, and trust the love.