The Way

Saturday was altogether typical.  Grey, windy, cool.  February.  Jeni put on a pot of her wonderful curry, and another of white Jasmine rice.  When I finished my Saturday work, I brought round the last of the cordword and lit a fire to enjoy while we ate.

While surfing On Demand, I paused to watch one of the interviews related to their newest programming.  Most of these I dismiss reflexively, as most movie-making is aimed at some demographic other than mine, but this was Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.  I’m a Martin Sheen fan, mostly a result of West Wing, so I halted the surfing long enough to pay attention.

The short interview was for Emilio’s movie, The Way.  I found the interview compelling. It ended with the mention of the 10-minute clip, which we then watched.  I was hooked.  Just as Comcast intended, I immediately navigated to the full movie.

I’d missed any notice of The Way back in 2010, when it apparently was released theatrically, so everything about it was new to me.  I tend toward an appreciation for small films, particularly cast with non-stars.  With the exception of Sheen, this movie is both.

I was also reminded again of the reality that life is never large enough or long enough to know all that is out there in human experience.  I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, of the pilgrimage.

This morning, to backfill my lack of knowledge, I turned again to the miracle of our age, the internet, to find the route on a map and read just a bit of the history that underpins the premise of the movie.  The story of the Camino itself, both medieval and modern, seems to be as interesting as depicted in the movie, and so, the reading will continue.

This comes from

In the film, a father unfortunately comes to understand his son’s life through his death and along the road finds himself as well. The main protagonist of the film is the conflict we each have within ourselves of choosing a life versus living a life. This greater question of finding oneself is a matter of acceptance and choice. Given the circumstances of our lives, how do we understand ourselves, our family and our friends, and the choices we make? Do we blindly go through life unaware of our actions and how they affect not only ourselves but others, as well? What role does our community, friendships and faith play in our decisions? 

It’s that fifth sentence that stood out.  It’s familiar.  Two words, “actions” and “others”, constitute familiar territory, places I’ve visited before, by other means and for other reasons.

The movie is a piece of entertainment but manages to give life to concepts suggested by the quote above, thoughts which seem to be reflected by those who have experienced and written about the Camino de Santiago.

As the credits began to roll, Jeni turned to me from her place in front of the hearth and said “Are you jealous?”  She knows me pretty well.  A lifelong walker, I was, as I watched, drawn to the experience of the characters, to say nothing of the millions who have made the pilgrimage over the centuries.  There is, of course, also the attraction suggested by the quote above, the same part of me that has read, if superficially, of people who, instead of vacations, seek a cell in a monastery or silent Buddhist meditation at a Sangha, for weeks at a time.  Neither of these, the physical experience of the long trek nor the spiritual experience of the pilgrimage, are likely to occur, but she was right in that both found a place in me.

Then she said “It looks like something I could do.”  I about fell off the couch.  With the exception of day outings in the kayaks, Jeni is not a big outdoors person, or much disposed to adventure.  But something about this movie seems to have found a place in her too.

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