Friday, September 4, 2009

I have an agreement with several friends of mine regarding how I should be memorialized after my death. I don´t care much what they do with my sorry carcass, but I´ve asked that someone spraypaint "Finitude Sucks!" on a highway overpass somewhere. So if you ever see that somewhere, (or if you see some, hopefully superannuated, friend of mine tottering over the edge to try to tag for me,) mention me to God.
I don´t entirely mean it. It is, after all, the fact of finitude that gives our decisions meaning. What we choose to do, what we choose not to "have time" to do, who we spend our time, energy and love with, are all only important because we cannot do it all, accomplish it all, love everyone.
Finitude is a central message of the Camino. Despite being in pretty good physical condition (heck, I DID climb Kilimanjaro last year, after all,) I´ve been very footsore these last few days. Nothing else is problematic--few blisters, my back handles the pack, my legs are still strong at the end of the day, but my sore feet reduce me to hobbling like an octogenarian trying to spraypaint a highway overpass. I find this utterly irritating.
There are lots of the lame and the halt along the way. We trade tales of dealing with blisters, compare shoes and boots. We start conversations not with "what do you do?" but "How are you doing?", especially if the person is clearly not doing all that well. We met one young man, "Eric the Lame," who is clearly in fine shape, who is hobbling at a near standstill. But he goes on. He chooses to do this. He, like me, is running smack into his own finitude in a way most healthy people don´t.
Don´t get me wrong. My encounter with finitude is self-inflicted, I expect temporary, indeed improving daily, while lots and lots of people wrestle with their limits in a much more profound way. My aversion to walking downhill is nothing compared to those who require accomodation or equipment to move around at all. And of course, we all share the ultimate finitude--eventually, our time will run out, and our friends will have to make good on those promises we asked from them about how to remember us. Finitude makes our decisions worthwhile. Footsore is a hint of ultimate finitude. Finitude is an echo of the packs we carry that we keep light but have to have in order to function on the road. Finitude still sucks, but it does teach, doesn´t it?

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