Andrew McCarthy Wrote a Book About a Father-Son Pilgrimage. His Son Gets His Say.



Within the ninth century, the Catholic Church introduced that the stays of the apostle James had been found within the far western attain of the Iberian Peninsula, at what would turn out to be the city of Santiago de Compostela. It additional declared that anybody keen to make a pilgrimage to the spot would obtain plenary indulgences, or the remission of punishment for his or her sins. The trustworthy got here working, er, strolling. The Camino de Santiago sprang into existence and has been traversed, with various levels of recognition, ever since.

The Camino passes over the Pyrenees Mountains and bisects desolate plains; it leads via villages of some dozen inhabitants and sizable cities (Pamplona, León). Typically below blistering solar.

I first walked this path a quarter-century in the past. There was no spiritual name to my stroll, however like so many pilgrims via the ages, the Camino produced in me a transformative — dare I say religious? — expertise. I’d all the time needed to return to the Camino and in the summertime of 2021, I invited my then 19-year-old son, Sam McCarthy, to affix me. Sam, an actor and a local New Yorker who has appeared in such exhibits as “Lifeless to Me” on Netflix, shocked me by saying sure. We arrived in Spain in late July and walked via a scorching August to Santiago de Compostela. After which, whereas I sat my weary physique down, Sam continued on, for 50 extra miles to the ocean, ending his journey within the village of Finisterre.

I’ve written a e book, “Strolling With Sam: A Father, a Son, and 5 Hundred Miles Throughout Spain,” that tells the story of our journey from my perspective, however what did it imply for him? Why would a teen say sure to a month of strolling along with his father?

“It didn’t actually really feel like an enormous resolution,” mentioned Sam. “It was one thing you’d all the time talked about, and it intrigued me — the concept of strolling throughout a rustic. I didn’t really feel like, ‘Oh, now I’m going to stroll and do that factor with my dad so we will get nearer.’ It wasn’t actually like that for me.”

“However I’d say it did draw us nearer,” I mentioned.

“After all,” he mentioned.

This dialog has been condensed and edited for readability.

Earlier than you set out on one thing just like the Camino, a minimum of for me, the concept of finishing it or ending felt type of amorphous. I didn’t know what to anticipate. However there’s a fantastic power that comes with an achievement like doing the stroll. It’s type of unshakable. It’s a tangible factor that you simply accomplished that may’t be taken away from you. I suppose for the primary time I gained a way of doing one thing exhausting that had appeared a bit incomprehensible. I imply, there’s a hill and it’s so far-off, after which I get to the hill, after which I stroll to the highest after which off within the distance there’s one other and it’s tremendous far-off. After which I get to it after which I get to the highest, after which there’s one other until you attain someplace. And that offers you, I don’t know, a type of possession that may’t be defined away.

Sure, I did. I discovered it tough, bodily, for the primary two, two and a half weeks, after which for the previous couple of I felt like I might stroll two extra international locations.

As a result of what’s the purpose in simply going to Santiago?

Yeah, however I wasn’t a spiritual pilgrim. That wasn’t a factor for me. It was all the time talked about as a stroll throughout Spain, and then you definately’re stopping 90 % of the way in which? Why would I simply cease?

OK, effectively, that’s your factor. I needed to see the ocean.

It was the entire expertise. It’s type of indescribable, and I believe attempting to speak about it’s bizarre as a result of the phrases within the English language can’t actually — not that it was such an intergalactically profound expertise, though it was profound. It’s simply extra like I don’t understand how one would actually describe it. I suppose the spotlight was the state of being that you simply enter. And positive, reaching Finisterre, however I’m unsure ending needs to be the purpose.

There was a saying on the Camino that you simply didn’t perceive or actually care about that I liked, “Stroll, don’t attain.”

It means simply stroll. Don’t be interested by the place you need to be subsequent. Don’t be greedy for a end line. Simply be right here versus reaching for what’s forward in 5 minutes, 5 days, 5 weeks from now. It’s not an authentic thought. However , possibly I had type of misplaced myself earlier than the Camino, and I suppose you noticed that. Folks go to attempt to discover themselves once more. You stroll and stroll and stroll and it’s like, am I over right here? Am I over right here? And it’s like no, I’m proper right here this complete time.

Sure, sure.

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