Companion (Wrotten August 24, 2021)
Ah, just walk with me and it’ll be ok.
I don’t think I knew what that meant
Untill I walked a day at a stranger’s side,
Over twenty miles of hot cement.
Just be by my side and I’ll be ok. That is a sentiment I didn’t really appreciate- to the extent that it doesn’t even make sense to me. I know it is true for people and so I keep it in mind when I know they are struggling, but it isn’t something I have ever really understood.
Until I was walking the Cabrini Pilgrimage this year. Since…I don’t know, 6th grade? I’ve always walked pilgrimage beside the same person. My walking buddy. When walking 50 miles in two days, a walking buddy is indespensible. They keep you focused on why gou are walking, they remind you to take care of yourself, they give you someone to take care of when you are too tired to take care of yourself. Having a friend is something I have understood.
This year, though, my walking buddy didn’t come. If you’ve never done something like this- something that requires stubborn perseverance through pain over a long period of time- I don’t know that I can properly express how difficult it can be to not have your companion. That said, for lack of my walking buddy I learned a lesson: just having someone walking beside you can ease the load, even if they are a perfect stranger who doesn’t even know you are there.
I walked most of the time beside someone who I basically did not know at all…but it really helped. A walking buddy doesn’t actually do anything to help you. They don’t make your feet hurt less, don’t keep the sun off your neck. But they make all the difference, despite that. As it turns out, you can fall in step with someone who doesn’t even acknowledge your presence and it can help just the same.
You are walking the same path, towards the same goal, for more or less the same reasons. Maybe you don’t suffer the same ways, for the same reasons, but you know they are offering up their private sufferings just like you are. That really does make all the difference.
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I lie. I learned two lessons. The second being that it is really hard to make an 11 year old boy, caught up in the thrill of dedicating himself to something good and beautiful, drink an adequate amount of water…to say the least.