I have a stuffy head, so I cancelled all my appointments and went to the Loft Cinema. Maybe I wanted some clarity, or at least to focus on something other than myself. My friend Kathleen walked the Camino de Santiago through Spain, around 450 miles. Known as an ancient pilgrimage for religious or spiritual seekers, it could also be a worthwhile long walk, with stops in villages for sleep and eat and good wine along the way.
Martin Sheen plays the lead, a distraught father who decides to make the trek, honoring his son who died in an accident after his first day. It would be too pat to say that he gets over his loss. He gets angry, he gets feisty, he gets drunk and causes a ruckus. Sheen plays an staid ophthalmologist in his early 60s from California whose wife has already died and he’s alone. He’s an upstanding guy. He steps out of his restrained life to walk in his son’s shoes.
Although the pilgrimage — or whatever it is for the participant — is often solitary I’ve heard from Kathleen that you meet others along the way, people for all over the world with their own stories. In “The Way,” Sheen at first wants to be left alone he ultimately develops a bond with three unlikely strangers: Jost the Dutch fat guy who wants to lose weight, Sarah the Canadian who says she wants to stop smoking, and a wild Irish travel writer whose name I can’t remember. It’s kind of like an adult play group.
I don’t know if I could walk 450 miles carrying a backpack. And I didn’t like the sleeping arrangements — beds lined up in old buildings in dorm fashion (guess I’m more of the B & B type). But mingling with people from different countries while achieving a similar goal is appealing.
Maybe I should start with a walking tour of English gardens, having my own room, stopping for a proper cup of tea along the way.