I Say No to Fear

Camino self portrait

Sheree Burlington Self Portrait Camino de Santiago

I created this self portrait in 2015 while agonizing over when to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago in Spain. While I was sure I'd go the following year, I surprised myself and everyone else by leaving 6 weeks after reading a random post on Pinterest. I walked five hundred miles, from the base of the French Pyrenees, to the west coast of Spain. 

Just like I found myself six years ago, I'm wrestling with an undefinable urge to do something - anything to shake myself out of my lethargy. To find meaning in the daily slog, to look into the eyes of humans hungry for humanity. My backpack is still packed with Camino essentials - I could leave tomorrow. And in spite of being dismally unprepared - I'd go. 

But wait, people have said. What about convid? You could die - in a foreign land, all alone, without your people! What could possibly be worse? I'll tell you what could be worse - dying slowly in NH, all alone, without my people. But convid is over, they exclaim! No. No it isn't. 2020 was just the beginning. I'm 7+ years  without mainstream TV and 20 minutes of news in the diner this morning made that clear. Feeling a tiny bit safe in this post lockdown world? Peeking out the door and finding it somewhat normal? Just wait. Because by the time you grab your purse and keys, The Variant will have arrived, filling hospitals beyond capacity, and robbing countless of their lives. It's the planned extension of this global crisis and it's coming for you.

Please. Give it to me. I'll take it on the chin for everyone - kind of like Jesus did, but without the holiness and history. I'll take it so that we can put this con behind us and get on with living our inherently unsafe lives. The lives we lived since the beginning of time, before people of the entire world covered their faces with the scale equivalent of a chain link fence and began fearing their friends and neighbors. No. Thank you. I will not stay safe. I'd rather cross the rainbow bridge now than live one more day in a world of manufactured fear.

That tired face up there? I see her in the mirror. She's more wrinkled. More silver. She's also more tired on a soul level and if I could find a way, I'd hold her to my heart and hug her with all of my being. She's good. She's kind. She's compassionate. She's in love with humanity and would do literally anything to save it from itself. I love her. 

Since air travel mandates a treatment to which I'll never submit, Spain will have to wait. And if I don't walk the Camino in this lifetime, I'll walk it again, for the umpteenth time - in the next. I'll be unprepared and terrified and I'll go anyway. I might even die there.  I know one thing though, if I don't, I'll arrive in Santiago  transformed and protected by spirit Pilgrims who, like me, found their way along The Way. Buen Camino future self. I'll wait for you at the top.


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