your way is broken
Updated: Sep 24, 2020
As the coronavirus sweeps across Europe, again, we face the certainty of more forced change to social behaviours, and further travel restrictions. What “ordinary social life” might look like on the other side of this global pandemic is, at this moment, anyone's guess.
I suspect, for many, it will be an attempt to get “back to normal”, to recover what they feel was lost, to make up for “lost time”. This will undoubtedly mean spending money because that is what life has become, an economic equation. Our value as humans is based on our ability to produce, the income we derive, and the baubles we buy, repeat. The compulsion to go out and consume, to drink, to party, to blow away all those restrictions on our perceived “freedoms” will be a frenzy of spending and celebration, and life will return to normal.
Others might want not want to go “back to normal”, maybe normal wasn’t that great. Maybe, instead of seeing enforced social and travel restrictions as “confinement”, they viewed it with new eyes as an opportunity to pause and recalibrate?
Personally, I found the mania of “normal life” poisoning my soul, deep down and slowly seeping out into my everyday encounters. Compelled by an internal mechanism I didn't understand, I was driven, I had to be seen to be busy, to be wanted, to be successful, a hamster on a wheel had more freedom. Burning out, I needed to find another way.
I was on the Camino, in northern, Spain, a small town called Estella, and I wasn't paying attention. The path in front of me looked enticing. A long straight road with grassy sides, tall wide trees offering shade for as far as I could make out, this looked like the sort of path a pilgrim should be on but I hesitated. It didn't feel right, I needed to pause and recalibrate. Thankfully, behind me was a young Spanish girl, maybe 12.
Big smile, I introduced myself in my best Spanglish “ola, sinyoureena, me peregrina Camino” I said pointing to me and then along the path.
She replied, “no, your way is broken” and pointed across a field to another road where I could make out the shapes and colours of backpacks. I thanked her and was off, over the barbed wire fence, through the dark mud swamp in front of the stinky stream while followed by three piglets, and with stinky mud boots over the second fence.
Hmmm … “your way is broken” … “your way is broken” it resonated.
What she meant to say was “you are an idiot pilgrim and you are lost, go that way” but she said “your way is broken” and she was right on so many levels.
Since that day in 2013, I have had so many many conversations with people who tell me they to are lost. Some are lonely, others just tired, while others are empty, burned out, driven, and some … suicidal.
I said to them, pretty much what the little girl said to me.
I think after the second wave of COVID there will be a lot of people who don’t want to go back to “normal life”. They will seek a different way because they know the one they are on now ... is broken.