Where the sidewalk ends
What: Beth Jusino reads from Walking to the End of the World
Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
To hear Beth Jusino tell it, if she can walk 1,000 miles, almost anybody can.
In fact, when she comes to Village Books on Wed., Oct. 17 to share tales from her travel tome, Walking to the End of the World: A Thousand Miles of the Camino de Santiago, those in attendance can find out more about how someone who never identified as an athlete learned to swallow their fear and put one foot in front of the other—and another, and another, and another—to find the strength to walk from Le Puy-en-Velay in Southern France to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela, and continuing on to the Atlantic Ocean.
“Somewhere I read that each person who walks the Camino de Santiago experiences it in three stages,” the Seattle-based writer, editor and book publishing consultant says of the pilgrimage she undertook with her husband Eric beginning in April 2015. “Regardless of how they go, what shape they’re in, or why they think they’re there, the first third will be a test of the body, the second a test of the mind, and the final third a gift to the soul.
“Seventy-nine days gave us a lot of time for tests and gifts.”
Although the Jusinos didn’t consider themselves to be on an existential spiritual quest and weren’t grieving a loss or seeking the answer to an important question, Beth notes that 20 years of “postmodern adulting” had burned her out. She was ready for something different to happen, and so, at the age of 38, she and Eric set out for the adventure of a lifetime—despite the fact that up until then, Beth’s idea of a hike was a three-mile stroll through flat city parks.
Unsurprisingly, there was a steep learning curve when it came to figuring out how to adapt to life on the road—including where to sleep, when to eat, how to keep her body from breaking down on a regular basis, and finding the ability to communicate with other travelers when she didn’t speak their language. Early on, she questioned if she was up to the challenge, but eventually learned to become present on the pathway.
The game changed after meeting an innkeeper and former pilgrim named Sylvain who told the couple he thought traveling on this particular journey was a way of living a monastic life.
“You walk up, you walk,” he told them. “When you arrive, you take care of your feet, you take care of your basic needs and you it. Do it day after day, and it becomes a meditation.”
“He’d hit on one of the things that had been scratching at my my mind all week,” Jusino writes. “We walk, we eat, we sleep. Is this it?
“According to Sylvain, yes. And the way he said it, it was enough.”