Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Goat Rodeos: Sometimes Magic, Sometimes Tragic

    The concert was billed as “The Goat Rodeo Show” when I checked the event schedule at Tanglewood during my East Coast travel in August.  Omega Institute had invited me to speak at a cancer wellness weekend in Rhinebeck, NY, creating a perfect opportunity to expand the experience with a visit to the legendary summer music festival at Lenox, MA.

    But, Goat Rodeo?  Well, it involved cellist Yoyo Ma, so I ordered tickets for a performance in the 5,000-seat outdoor arena. Within the first three or four bars of music, I could feel the entire 5,000 listeners lean forward, drawn to the edge of our seats as a blast of blended bluegrass/jazz/classical energy surged through the audience. In an instant, we were energized, elated, captivated by a convergence the musicians called a “goat rodeo” from a term used by aviation folk to describe a risky scenario that requires about 100 things to go right at precisely the same time if you intend to walk away from it.

    For Yoyo Ma and the three consummate musicians with him in this group, the goats lined up in a rush of creativity that erupted in joyful harmony. No question, all 100 variables converged in this bold alignment of musical genres. And actually, I felt a similar harmonic convergence two days later for faculty and participants at the Omega weekend workshop.
Camino Pilgrims 2004

    But, alas, the Goat Rodeo of life that apparently governed my walk on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain this fall failed to achieve such a magical outcome. I should be boarding the plane today. Instead, I cancelled 18 hotel and hostel reservations this week and began unraveling the 100s of decisions and plans that my spouse and I had pulled into alignment for an independent, self-guided adventure. It was to be our second immersion in the traditions and landscapes of the famed Spanish pilgrimage path that challenged and charmed us in 2004. This time we outlined a trek of 130 miles or so, bought plane tickets, booked lodgings, and thought we’d roped up the myriad loose ends and variables of an ambitious undertaking. 

    Not even my broken elbow in June dampened our dreams. Plenty of time to heal and to train, we thought. We hadn’t planned for the lingering infection that put me back in the hospital last week for a second surgery on the joint, removal of screws installed in June and three days of heavy-duty IV infection combat. No virulent bacteria revealed themselves in the Petri dish. I feel fine. In fact, I’m getting ready to head out for a walk. But a walk in Eugene is not, the orthopedist says, the same risk as three-week distance walk in another part of the world. “Spain will be there,” he insisted. “Cancel the trip.” Loving friends agree “Spain will be there when you are ready,” they assure me.

Camino Training 2013
    Okay.  I nod compliantly as doubts settle unspoken in my mind: Spain will be there. But will I? This elbow process—the fall, the healing, the setbacks—forces recognition of the changes aging imposes on physical resilience. I wonder now how long I can assume that what doesn’t get done today can be done tomorrow. 

    So today, I’m taking a walk. It’s not Spain but still, I’m back on my feet. It’s four miles, not 12, but it’s four miles moving forward. And it appears that  the path stretching out before me now actually fulfills two of the classic components of pilgrimage: surrender and sacrifice.  For today, that’s all I need.

If the questions and challenges of my remapped pilgrimage resonate with you, perhaps it’s time to open Healing Walks for Hard Times and let the inspiring stories of other walkers restore faith and resiliency. Accompany me on the path by signing up above, right, to get future blog posts delivered directly to your inbox. 

1 comment:

  1. Carolyn - I read your post outloud to John as we sit by the fire at our cabin at Odell. I am so sorry to hear of this setback. I hope it's not MRSA that you have. You are in such great shape as Dean is too. Keep the faith. You both are an inspiration to us. Keep walking. Much love, Sherold and John


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