The decision (or my moment of madness)!

On Friday night I picked up a book (ok not so unusual, I have been know to do that).  I had a huge exam the next morning – the GAMSAT for entry to Medicine – and I couldn’t sleep.  I tried all the usual tricks (I had insomnia off and on for a few years so acquired a fair few); counting backwards from 100, telling myself a story, counting sheep, meditating, getting angry, crying, making myself a warm drink, hot shower etc but nothing was working.  It was 3:00 and I was still awake.  I remembered a friend had lent me a book a month ago so I picked it up to read a few pages.

Well, I still didn’t get much sleep that night, but I had started something without realising what I was getting into.  The book was ‘The year we seized the day‘ a travel narrative co-authored by Elizabeth Best and Colin Bowles about their journey to complete the Camino De Santiago, an 800km pilgrim trail from France to Santiago de Compostella in Spain.  I identified a lot with Eli, she has faced some huge physical and mental challenges in her life, so have I.  By the time I finished the last page I had decided – I want to do this too, no, I CAN do this.  If Eli can do it then so can I.  Later on I realised just how much I actually needed to do it.

I think to better express the magnitude of my decision I need to explain a bit more about me – what makes me who I am and drives the decisions I make.  If you’re interested read about me.

After thinking about it a bit, how it could change my life, change me, mean something to me, I began to realise how frustrated I was getting with the world around me.  How everyone was so worried about money or when to have kids etc.  Problems that seemed so trivial to me in comparison to what I’ve been going through for so many years, for most of my life.  I know they don’t feel trivial at the time, you don’t need to be constantly unwell to feel like you’re drowning in problems and you can’t see a way through but it’s all subjective.  When you put it in perspective – yes, it’s annoying for you that you’re sick for the whatever number time this year but it’s the end of March and I haven’t been well since going in to hospital in January.  Actually, if you really want to be more precise, I have a chronic illness and haven’t been completely well since 2003.  Reflecting on it all I came to the realisation – I can’t put up with much more of this, if I try I’ll end up depressed again or exploding and alienating everyone.  I have to change something, to do something drastic, change perspective, gain perspective, find something or maybe just find myself.  I’m going to walk the Camino.  Yes I, Claire, with my dodgy joints and my low blood pressure and immune problems and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or whatever it is, am going to walk a pilgrim trail across Spain…  Help! (I mean, woohoo!)

So I ordered a couple of guidebooks, looked at a few websites, made a packing list.  Bought some new hiking boots (which I actually needed to do anyway!) and a super-lightweight pack, hiking socks and arch-supporting inner soles.  Began researching flights to Paris and trying to figure out how in the hell I am going to afford to get there (hello frequent-flyer points and pity).  In typical Claire style I started tackling this idea head on – I wonder what will happen.  Will I run out of steam?  Will my body stop me?  Will common sense and self-preservation get the better of me?  Will I be completely fine and own this thing? Or will it be somewhere in the middle?  Who knows, but I want to find out!

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