A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Together And Alone

On 27 October just before the town of Figeac I crossed from the département of Aveyron into the département of the Lot. It was on this day that I saw Thierry for the last time. He'd accidentally left his camera in Decazeville and had gone back to retrieve it. I knew he intended to camp near Saint-Félix about 14 km before Figeac. I left a packet of lemon tea for him on a stone bench beside Saint-Félix church. I don't know if he found it. Reaching Figeac just before dark I treated myself to a hotel that night.

For the next 3 days I walked fast and alone. 30 km a day to Cajarc, to Vaylats, to Cahors. So far I'd scarcely been on my own. At first it was good to have a companion, good to share meals and jokes and swap life stories, good to hone my French speaking skills. But thinking solitary thoughts is also what this pilgrimage is about. I found it liberating to be walking solo at last, going at my own pace, making my own decisions, carving out my own route.

The odd pang of loneliness was more than compensated for by the exaltation I felt at being free to do exactly as I pleased. On my own I experienced a more intense relationship with nature, a deeper kinship with the landscape I passed through. Very interesting to compare both states - walking in company and walking alone. Both can be good. But for me walking alone is more necessary...

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