"Caminante, son tus huellas el camino y nada más."
Antonio Machado's best-known poem goes to the heart with a stunning economy of words:
Traveler, it's your footprints
that are the path, and nothing more;
Traveler, there is no path,
as the path is made by walking.
In walking one becomes the road,
and in looking back sees
the trail that never was
and rises above it.
Traveler, there is no path
but ripples we leave in the sea.
It's better in the original Spanish. The effort of learning the language is repaid a hundred times by stumbling onto such a poem.
I am a walker, a wanderer. Yo soy un caminante, un peregrino. It isn't so unusual, yet it isn't something anyone these days would strive to be.
Others plant their crops in parallel rows, hasten the ball to the obvious goal. They aren't wrong. I often wish I were more like them.
But this path, as I look back it's been a good path, with shelter and food and love and music. With loss, too, and with misunderstanding and doubt, fierce wind and fever and frozen fingers, bee stings and poison ivy and macaroni salad. All endured with abiding gratitude.
No sensible person would choose this path. Maybe that explains why I did.