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Norma Rae 05-13-2013 07:26 AM

The Camino
Friends . . . as with Out on a Limb . . . I am about to make some of you quite jealous . . . I just finished reading The Camino for the first time! And I finished it while sitting gazing at the Bellagio fountains in the heart of Las Vegas. I am not sure--yet--if that is entirely ironic or wholly appropriate! What do you think?

I've underlined so much in this book that I am not quite sure where to begin. Perhaps first with a sincere thank you to the author for not stopping with Chapter 14. Thank you for continuing to write your experiences after "debat[ing] with [your]self whether to include the ensuing events in the telling of [your] Camino tale." (p. 187).

And when you ask,"[f]orgive the depth of my decision to continue if you find it threatening," (p. 223) . . . no forgiveness required. Thank you for bravely continuing.

Now . . . Friends . . . let's start discussing this book . . . anyone have a favorite section or shall I throw a few out there for contemplation?

Namaste from the sultry Las Vegas strip,

patswife 05-13-2013 05:27 PM

Steph, first of all, am quite jealous of your surroundings. Love the Bellagio Fountains in Vegas. Hope to get back out there one of these days--I'm in CT. I've read the Camino a couple of times. A favorite passage? I think I can relate to the incident when Shirley got lost and asked her parents for help. I have a horrendous sense of direction and have always thought if I ever do the Camino I will probably get helplessly lost and wind up who knows where? I loved reading about her walking by herself and being in tune to her inner thoughts--which is the real reason for doing this trek, I'm sure.
This is one of my favorite books by Shirley. Have you read others or just OOAL and Camino?
Thought provoking as always , Steph.

Norma Rae 05-13-2013 11:45 PM

"water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink"
Joanne (and all Friends) . . . ah Vegas and its opulent fountains (as I type these words, I can hear the triumphant Bellagio) . . . quite the opposite--I imagine--from the life-sustaining Camino fountains, which Shirley describes as follows:

" . . . I stopped at a drinking fountain--fountains, I would learn, would be waiting for me in every village. The pure, clean water of the village fountains in northern Spain made the Santiago Camino possible." (pp. 35-36)(emphasis added).
Here is one of my favorite observations: "We passed a bridge leading to Zubiri and then a fountain adjacent to an ancient church. We stopped and filled our water bottles with the clear fountain water. So clear, so delicious. I sat by the fountain and put my feet up, concluding that all I really needed in life were good shoes, a loyal stick, and pure water." (p. 53)(emphasis added).
And while this passage is not about man-made fountains, but mother nature-made, I thought the water imagery so lovely that it should be included in this preamble on water: "All stood as though in a water-soaked trance . . . knowing that all natural predators were in their own God-given moisturizing trance during the rain. It was nature's way of calling a truce for all potential disturbances. The animals seemed to understand an invisible harmony and had respect for each other's differences." (pp. 47-48)(emphasis added).

Oh, Joanne . . . I did not mean to digress on water and fountain imagery here. I do want to get back to your reference to the appearance of Shirley's mother and father, which is at the end of Chapter 11. Although . . . at the end of her encounter with her mother and father upon being lost, she finally arrives at the next refugio. The last sentence of that Chapter is . . . "I slept without dinner, only water, remembering my mother and father. I felt them smiling down on me." (p. 143)(emphasis added). Hmmmm? "Water," eh? Should we explore the water imagery here? We could start with the womb . . .

Pick a quotation someone. Where should we start:

1. Mother/father/water reference in Chapter 11;
2. Rain/trance/truce imagery on pages 47-48; or,
3. water/feet/basic fundamentals on page 53?

If I were still in English Lit. graduate school . . . I would seriously consider all of this a potential dissertation abstract. Thank you all for indulging my fantasy (for now!).

love and LOTS of lights from the Las Vegas strip,

p.s. I have only read Out on a Limb and The Camino thus far. My introduction to Shirley's writings was the audio version of Saging While Aging on what was supposed to be a roadtrip from Chicago to Santa Fe for my yoga teacher training with Tias Little of Prajna Yoga (www.prajnayoga.net), but it ended up being a last minute flight from TN to Santa Fe due to a sudden and tragic loss in my life. The synchronicity was not lost on me, and I have been learning and growing ever since--at an exponential rate, I might add. But let's get back to that water . . .

patswife 05-14-2013 05:06 PM

O.K. Steph, here goes my take on this (although I don't think I can come close to your insights).
You quoted Shirley as writing that all she needs in life is "good shoes, a loyal stick and pure water." I would say that was all she needed to walk the Camino but certainly not all we need in life. Of course, I would agree with the water because as we know, we wouldn't get far without that. Water is life. I loved reading all of the references you pointed out regarding water.
Do you think most, if not all, humans feel an affinity for water? In particular---listening to a stream, gazing at a waterfall, standing by the ocean and meditating on the waves, or just enjoying the fountains in Vegas? Why is that, do you think? Something in us seems to respond on a very deep level. It seems to have another meaning for us other than just survival.
You know, I've never thought so much about water as I have just now!
Love reading your thoughts and anyone else who might wish to join in!

Norma Rae 05-15-2013 07:43 AM

"all I really needed in life were good shoes, a loyal stick, and pure water"
There are at least two reasons why I love Shirley's conclusion in The Camino that "all I really needed in life were good shoes, a loyal stick, and pure water." First, the reference to the essential nature of water, which I'll return to in a moment. And second, two very important women in my life (my partner and my best friend who suddenly died in a freak accident a few years ago) have made similarly bold statements: (1) when my partner and I came out of the Yosemite wilderness after 3 nights of backpacking, she concluded that "all I really need in life is what's in this backpack." It was an astonishing statement to hear in general and to hear from her as I could see the layers of unnecessary clutter melting off of her before my very eyes; and, (2) my Friend often made the following statement after hiking in her beloved Smoky Mnts, "After a long hike, there's nothing like soft shoes, cold beer, and warm corn muffins waiting in the car." Perhaps there is something about walking and repeatedly placing your feet upon sacred ground--the Camino, Yosemite, the Smokies--in a moving meditation that brings you to the astonishingly simple epiphany that we need so very little to find freedom?

Now about that water . . . Joanne, I love your ponderings on why humans have such a primordial connection to water. I think we would all agree that there is something not only life sustaining about water, which is undeniable, but also something ancient we've forgotten and are trying desperately to rediscover. Before we come into this life, we are surrounded by water in the womb; when we are born, we are probably 75% water; as adults, our bodies are still 50-65% water; the planet we live on is a veritable waterworld of almost 70% water; our religions are all steeped in mythology and symbolism of sacred waters (baptisms, for example); literature is full of water imagery usually as a symbol of cleansing or rebirth, but also death and destruction (Shiva?); water gives life, but also takes life (Hurricane Katrina and recent Asian tsunamis); many have past life recollections of water destroying Lemuria and Atlantis (Shirley recalls such moments in The Camino) . . .

I love the part in The Camino where Shirley describes her past life in Lemuria where she agreed to undergo sexual division by first giving birth to her other half while absolutely surrounded by an amber (I think that was the color) liquid. Similarly, once the division began, she and her partner remained completely engulfed in the amber liquid during the division and then later during their sexual reunion. The liquid seemed to create some sort of life-producing protective holding space. An unbelievably amazing and beautiful moment in the book, I thought.

I am curious to get others' perspectives on water in general and, also specifically, do any of you have past life memories involving water?

Namaste from my last day in the Las Vegas desert . . .

Norma Rae 05-15-2013 08:59 AM

Oh--on simple freedom: I just remembered the story Shirley relates in Out on a Limb (I think) and in some interviews of a little bird and its one possession, a small stick that it carried in its mouth across oceans (more water!) and used the stick to rest upon, to sleep upon, to fish upon. Simple unmaterialistic freedom.

Norma Rae 05-16-2013 06:12 PM

the feminine!
Oh wow! . . . I cannot believe that I neglected to bring up the obvious water connection--the feminine! Duh! Not until I was listening to the latest Independent Expression Radio show with Kelly Sullivan Walden when Shirley and Kelly discussed the connection of the feminine (yin) to water did I realize that I completely left this out of the discussion here! Again I say to myself--duh! :)

Is our primordial attraction to water and waves connected to our search to rediscover the feminine in each of us, and, the feminine in this crazy world we live in today that seems to have forgotten/neglected/abused her? Is it time to reconnect this metaphorical (or is it metaphorical at all?) umbilical cord to the goddess and get the rebalancing on with already?! (Aside: Now . . . If we are going to discuss the goddess . . . I am going to have to bring up my partner's former professor, mentor, and dear friend [mine too], Patricia Monaghan, who recently passed--what an amazing woman--but left this world with a treasure trove of books on the goddess! Anyone want to read one of her books with me?)

. . . so . . . yup . . . this discussion may take a while to fully explore before we can move onto another topic in The Camino.

Would love to hear others' perspectives!

Namaste from the springy Midwest!

Norma Rae 05-21-2013 04:09 PM

Was randomly listening to an archived Independent Expression radio program on the way home from work today--July 4, 2010--and Shirley referenced her "good shoes, a loyal stick, and pure water" observation. Coincidence?

patswife 05-21-2013 05:29 PM

No such thing as coincidence, Steph, as I am sure you well know. Seems that maybe you are meant to get this message?

Norma Rae 05-23-2013 05:51 AM

Ha! I think you are correct, Joanne. And I think I am going to listen and learn from it . . .

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