In two years of traveling, one thing stood out to me the most: It's about the people.
Regardless of where my journey took me, it's who I was with that I remember the most. And the stories people told were incredible. But the moment that I truly realized "everyone has a story" was on May 22, 2015. I was starting out on morning two of my second stage of the Camino de Santiago.
I caught up with Judy at my breakfast stop. Judy had stayed in the same albergue as me the night before in San Bol. But at our community dinner, she got caught between one group of people speaking to each other in Swedish and Danish and another group communicating in Spanish and Italian, so she mostly kept to herself. In fact, I'm not sure she said any more than her name and where she was from when we went around the table for introductions. This albergue also didn't have any wifi and I was going on 48 hours without letting my parents know I was alive and well. (I try not to go beyond 72 hours to ease any unnecessary concern.) So at breakfast I was a bit distracted and started to explain that to Judy who took a seat across from me. But then she mentioned something about enjoying the cathedral in Burgos with her husband. I then assumed that she was walking and her husband was meeting up along the way or some such scenario. When I asked, she explained that her husband had suffered a heart attack two weeks ago somewhere after Belorado. The record player screeched to a halt in my head. Wait. What?? She went on to explain that he was picked up in a helicopter and flown to the Burgos University hospital, had a stint put in and was recovering well. She also said that if this would have happened at their home in Australia, the outcome would have been very different as they lived in a very remote region. So after Ross (husband) became stable she began to make plans to head home. Instead, Ross insisted that she finish the Camino. And not just pick up in Burgos but to go back to where his heart attack had occurred and then walk to the finish for him. He was meeting up with her nearly every night at albergues that were on the bus route. None of us knew what Judy was going through the night before in San Bol and I almost missed her story in my efforts to connect to the interwebs.
And so I remind myself to ask. Ask what someone's story is. And if the the time is right, please share your story with others. The transformation that can take place between people when we ask and share can be inspiring.