When you’re older you have baggage. That baggage is packed with habits, foibles, and deeply rooted convictions that cause you to shy away from life, things that get in the way of functioning clearly and living purposefully.

Many of these things are manifested in our personalities and make us “set in our ways” and “eccentric.” Some of us hold up these foibles as badges of honor. But really, they’re just behaviors, the foundations of which are habitual emotional reactions that were learned and refined long ago, and that are probably not relevant anymore.

But we rely on them anyway. We think they’re protecting us. But like the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones guns down the black-turbaned dude with a huge sword- the swords we wield aren’t relevant to the battles we fight today, and we’re entirely different people than we were back when we learned those anachronistic defenses.

You may be quite content with yourself and think those idiosyncrasies are what make you charming and cause you to display a certain Plein de vie, but get over yourself and take a look- do you really think you’re getting the most out of love, life, and loving life? Nah…who really is? If you’re reading this you probably aren’t anyway.

And when it comes to love, what those bags are packed with is more important than anything. They’re the things that will cause failure or success, and will get in the way of being intimate.  


We all have too much crap in our bags anyway…

When you meet someone, you have to be willing to set down those bags, start taking things out, and show the stuff inside to the other person. Beware, like the dark recesses of a woman’s handbag, you might find a few things you’d forgotten long ago.

To do this takes courage, and the willingness to be vulnerable.

Anything you choose to leave in the bag will stand in the way of real intimacy. Unfortunately, the things that you have the hardest time taking out are the things you want to face the least.

If you’re just looking to get laid, none of this matters. But, if you do decide that you finally want a real, emotionally mature, intimate relationship, unpacking your bags is necessary and has several benefits:


  • It helps you personally heal from those things you’ve packed away and refuse to confront
  • You will deeply experience what life is really about (if it is indeed really about anything)- laughter, tears, joy, fear, love.
  • It makes you vulnerable, and vulnerability leads to growth.
  • Being vulnerable with someone else is, in essence, intimacy, and is the path that leads to deep bonds and…love.
  • If life has thrown you to the ground and kicked you in the ass, then you’ve probably lost some faith and trust. Unpacking your bags will help you regain those things.


Love on the Camino

markwestwriter, Camino de Santiago, goats, allroadsleadhometheblog, life, altheaandthebigidea, memoir, writer

After leaving Castanares, I walked along a paved road. Finally, the Camino parted ways and climbed up and away from the road, into farm country. After about a mile there was a traffic jam- a farmer was moving his goats to an upper field. I stopped and watched the parade, as cowbells (goat bells?) clanged in the air.

The path made a steep ascent. To the left was a barbed wire fence with a sign that denoted a military zone. I had to laugh at the irony- the Camino is a path of solitude, peace, wisdom, and here it was running next to a place of war, aggression, and shortsightedness.

The Camino became broad and somewhat ill-defined, so I walked on the side that was sandy, (the other side rocky) making it easier on my blisters. I guess in life, most of us need to walk on solid ground , that way we know what to expect.

Before I left for the Camino, it seemed I had been walking on quicksand through a shit storm with a narwhal riding on my back. Yeah, a narwhal.

Not sure where that leaves me, walking on sand across Spain to visit a dead saint. I know that the main reason for me walking the Camino is to escape from the hurt and confusion I felt with Amanda, the woman who picked me up when I was down and helped me begin to believe in myself again.

When we found each other, we handed each other our battered hearts, staying up late into the night, sharing our experiences, talking about what each of us had been through. We became intimate.markwestwriter, Camino de Santiago, goats, allroadsleadhometheblog, life, altheaandthebigidea, memoir, writer

But then a more profound emotional issue came and sat down between us. That issue was trust. Depending on how you’ve been hurt and if you’ve dealt with it, trusting another again can be a Sisyphean effort.

We found ourselves in a vicious cycle of intimacy and distrust. We’d get close, and then one of us would pull back, afraid of getting hurt again. Or one of us (usually me) would do something stupid to piss the other off, causing both to retreat. Hell, we both still had a lot of work to do on ourselves, without bringing love into the equation.

The detritus of our acting out was tears, confusion, and pain. The key is to figure out a way to let that other person in and trust them no matter what it takes. Only then can healing begin. The journey you both go through will not only begin to heal the wounds of the past but will also create the bonds that make for a healthy relationship.

My experience with Amanda hurt like hell. But for all she taught me, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Read more:

Blog of my journey on the Camino de Santiago

markwestwriter, Camino de Santiago, goats, allroadsleadhometheblog, life, altheaandthebigidea, memoir, writer