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Camino Blog 15 – Jealousy

Yesterday we talked about jealousy and it was a an education.
We had a shorter day – 20+ kms today.  I discovered [to Bob’s chagrin] that I had miscalculated and actually had an extra day before flying on Saturday – not Friday as advertised.
We’d pushed hard – three 26 km days in a row after Samos to get to Arzua – within easy striking distance of 2 days.
And we made to O Pino last night, actually, overshot and had to go back viacoche over 2 kms –  heresay!
Jealousy about what?
-People who have it made
-People who have it all worked out
-People who have perfect physiques
-People who have seamless relationships with astounding others
-People who have it all
What is that all about?
Why would we carry personally diminishing assessments of ourselves?

One exceptional aspect of the Camino is imperfect women, really exercising their [imperfect] bodies and feeling wholly and completely [and unselfconsciously] themselves.  These women don’t avert their gaze when we approach [harmless as we are!].  They look straight at us and are ready to engage.  They are not caught in the stereotypical bullshit of being assessed for how they look, or condemning themselves ahead of time on that score.
They are real people in the midst of a great experience, looking to share it with others – no sex or other agenda overhanging.  It’s a revelatory freedom, both for them and those they meet, who probably hate seeing them going into a tailspin before one word has been said.

That whole syndrome is rooted in jealousy – of other, more perfect women who have, well, read the list of resentments above!

Men have a whole range of their own.
Last night, we had a delightful late evening supper in the back courtyard of the Meson Pension, A Brea with 5 other fantastic men.

Two, Ramon and Marcel were from the Strasbourg region of Germany, young, vibrant, sunned and vital.  They were so fresh and fun – despite having put in a 50 km day!  Their banter with us was lively while they had their after session beers and we hung out our laundry we’d done in the sink in our room.
We’d done 20, they’d done 50.  The implicit question arose:  were we poorer men on account of their superior/ our subpar performance?
We’d all had a feisty day – us starting in Arzua and winding our way through lovely crop land, very full of seed as the summer proceeds.  Little birds popped up every where to sing, to show themselves.  I hung over fences looking into pig barns and cattle enclosures.  Bob talked to a few goats and sheep.  We took pictures of everything that caught us – and the eye stopped everywhere.

Yesterday in a breakfast cafe beside the Route Nationale over yet another cafe con leche, I met with a gentleman from Portland.  He put the whole jealousy thing into perspective.
“You know, when I started out, I had all these worries.  I’d just retired.  So I was concerned about whether I had enough to get by on for the rest of life.
And you know the answer to ‘How much?’  It’s ‘More!’
And in one of those moments on the road to Damascus, it suddenly landed on me.  I’ve been asking the wrong question.  It’s not ‘How much?’.   It should be ‘How little?’.
And that settled me down completely and I’ve had a quiet mind ever since.”
Jealousy has a way of defining us and our capacity for enjoyment of life with reference to others.
We finished our day in a much better spirit – in a lively talk with the other 3 men in the back courtyard.  Watching Bob steer the conversation toward reflection for them was sitting at the feet of a master.
They responded to a different question:  “What has the Camino taught you?”
And they immediately backed away from banter, responses ranged, but the core was – they thought about it, responded reflectively and all expressed gratitude for being drawn there.

And there wasn’t a shred of jealousy in evidence anywhere in that sunset, warm evening with the family dog looking on circumspectly and the laundry drying in the evening breeze.

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Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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