Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Day 36. Orthez a Sauveterre-de-Bearn (24 kms)

4 July, 2012

Half way up the stairs is a stair where I sit,
There isn't any other stair quite like it.


The art of walking is to enjoy the pleasures of the moment, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the curiosities along the way, and not to look at the map or the guide to find out how far to go. Or if there aren't any pleasures because you're walking along the road, then to lose yourself in your thoughts and let the miles roll by.

So I resolved to follow the signs and not the guide. In any case, I had been told there were no bars to look forward to.

Happily, I slept in this morning. Otherwise, I would have been caught in the rain. Instead, the storm struck while I was still at a cafe having breakfast. But the thunder continued to rumble as I left town.

I am now walking over familiar hilly terrain. The villages are on the rivers in the valleys. Every time I pass through a village like l'Hopital d'Orion, for example, I come down from the hills and then have to climb out again.

In the electronic version of the Globe, I read of the discovery of the so-called "god particle", whatever that means. It won't answer the question I was reflecting on today as I walked.

When and why did we arrive at self awareness? At what point did some Neanderthal suddenly think, I am me. And then, I want this, you can't have it. And then, I want more.

What a strange and unique evolutionary quirk unlike any other! No wonder some theologians postulated a divine intervention.

And what purpose did this self-awareness, this individuality, serve in the evolutionary scheme of things? It led to greed, to competitiveness, to materialism, to the exploitation of other species and the planet itself, and quite possibly to total annihilation. All this seems contrary to the life principle itself under which other species seem to work together to ensure their own survival.

Of course, this human self awareness also led to Shakespeare and the other great works of art.

But what a cruel irony if we have been given, or have acquired by some stroke of evolutionary fortune or misfortune, the capacity to create the most noble works of art, the highest forms of human expression, only to destroy them like the Taliban and the Buddhist statues!

I prefer to hope that everything that is an expression of our individual self awareness will survive, and our species and our planet as well.

After these muddled thoughts, I was ready for a beer when I arrived at Sauveterre-de-Bearn. I also had a ham, egg and cheese galette Bretonne, and sat under a magnificent plane tree which had been trained to give shade to customers sitting in front of the bar. No other tree provides such deep shade. (See picture below.)

I have also posted a picture, just received, of the group at the refuge at Sorges. It comprises a Brazilian, the Dutch father and son, the German classics student, the hospitalier, and me. Perhaps you can identify us.

I have two days to go. I am ready to stop.

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