Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Not Procrastinating; or Thoughts on The Pilgrimage

I know I've only promised one post a week, but it's Wednesday night, and I feel like writing. And yes, there is a long list of other things I could be doing right now, from the should-not-be-postponed-any-longer (buying plane tickets!) to the menial (making my bed... I know, it's sad). Some of you may call this productive procrastination. You know... when there are things you should be doing, like sorting out your bills or responding to emails, but you decide that it's the perfect time to completely reorganize your music library or re-customize your blog, or... really do anything other than what you should. I hear you. And I've productively procrastinated like a pro... but this is different. I promise, and I'll explain...

Obsessed. It's not healthy... [source]
One thing I've learned is that I, as well as most people, am much more productive when I'm doing something that I want to do. I don't mean those impulsive wants (i.e. streaming the most recent episode of Dexter(!!!) or eating those oh-so-delicious Lotus cookies... which I may or may not have sitting next to my laptop as I type).
 I mean the things-- the desires that have already been on my to-do list for some time... the things I've wanted to improve, wanted to try, wanted to just do.
Here's the (very) short list:
  • Practice (more like learn how to play) my guitar.
  • Write more letters/postcards/emails. Just be better at keeping in touch.
  • Read more. Much more. And much more en español.
  • Plan lessons and be the kick-ass teacher I know I could be if I just tried.
  • Exercise (SO much more difficult now that the weather is cold)
  • And last but not least, give the blogging thing another shot (check!)
So yes, I may be procrastinating more pressing items on my to-do list, but like I said, I feel like writing. And you know what? It's on my list too. So I won't feel bad about it. What needs to be done will get done precisely because it must be done... even if I have to stay up late to do it. In the meantime, it's better not to fight the momentum. Go with the flow.
Moving on...

I'm reading a book right now called The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. While it's not his most famous novel, it was his first. How appropriate then that it is the first of his that I'm reading. So far, I love it! This is in part because the story is set along my beloved Camino de Santiago-- Coelho has done his research well, and the proof is in the little details... the ones that make me smile and reminisce.

SEMPRE NO CAMIÑO is Gallego for
Always on the Path. True statement.
But aside from this nostalgia, the book is inspiring me to reexamine myself and to meditate on what my dreams are and what it is that I want out of this life... important questions that should not to be answered quickly... if at all... 

According to Petrus, Coelho's guide along the Camino (yes, the author is meant to be the protagonist),
The journey, which prior to this was torture because all you wanted to do was get there, is now beginning to become a pleasure. It is the pleasure of searching and the pleasure of an adventure. You are nourishing something that's very important: your dreams. (56)
It is the pleasure of searching and the pleasure of an adventure... How many times and how many different ways have we heard that?
"Life is a journey, not a destination." 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive." 
Robert Louis Stevenson

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." 
Ernest Hemingway


It is important to have dreams... goals... something upon which we set our sights. Pursuing those with enthusiasm is something Coelho later describes as "fighting the good fight," but I'll save that for another post. For now, I'm focused on this: while having an "end to journey toward" is important, it is equally if not more important to not take the journey itself for granted. Don't you think? The journey is the stuff of life, the substance, the meat and potatoes. And perhaps there are pitfalls and low points... and still lower points... and there will be more-- maybe you're in one now. That's when those dreams are especially important: they give you something to cling to, to strive for. And then while you're striving, eventually and suddenly, you'll look around and realize that the view has gotten better, perhaps because your situation has truly changed, or perhaps simply because you've changed the way you think about it (and really, what is the difference between the two?) . In any event, the process will have taught you something... at the very least, to enjoy the high points that much more.

I feel like I'm starting to ramble... so I'm going to stop before I lose you as a passenger on my train of thought ;)

Two more things before I go:

1. I just remembered this amazing lyrical poet that a friend and her husband (Jessi and Will!) once showed me named Shane Koyczan, and in one of his poems he says the following about life:
It's a game. You play, you win; you play, you lose; you play.
Love that. If you'd like to listen to the whole poem, click the link above. Para mis amigos españoles: él habla MUY rápido, así que he incluído una transcripción debajo del vídeo para ayudaros si tenéis dudas. :)

2. I'll leave you with one more quotation... one of my favorites, by Rainer Maria Rilke:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live with them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.
If you have read this entire post, I love you. And I apologize for the winding road my mind tends to travel. It's only made worse better (winding roads are scenic and beautiful, right?) when I read thought-provoking books such as the one that started this whole conversation.
If you like thinking and would like to be forced to do more of it, read The Pilgrimage. And read it slowly. Digest it.

Side note: I could probably talk for hours about the things I've read in it... and I'm only halfway through the book. Fair warning: there will probably be more posts...

but for now, that's it. Leave your thoughts, questions, dreams, revelations... lo que quieras :)

Be well, and remember, life is for living!
La vida es para vivir!



  1. Cate, when ME and I were married 6 years ago, a niece gave me a framed needlepoint of a bicycle with the words "It's all about the journey". So true...

    1. That needlepoint sounds beautiful! It really is true, isn't it :)

  2. 1. "así que he inluído…". I guess it's a "typo", it should be "inCluído". I learnt/learned (which one do you use?) that word from Rebecca :)

    2. "…para ayudaros si tengáis dudas". En este caso no te sé explicar muy bien por qué, pero sería "para ayudaros si tenéis dudas" (mantener el tiempo verbal) o "para ayudaros en el caso de que tengáis dudas" (es un supuesto, una hipótesis).

    P.D: me ha gustado mucho el monólogo de Shane Koyczan y esa frase en concreto, pero me estaba saliendo humo de la cabeza mientras lo escuchaba. Gracias por la transcripción ^_^'

    1. Me alegro de que lo hayas escuchado y te haya gustado :) De verdad, les cuesta a algunos nativos entenderlo! Habla muyyyyy rápido!
      Como siempre, gracias por corregirme! Arreglado! :)