Very early in the film, The Way (currently streaming on Netflix), there is a scene of a father (Martin Sheen) driving his son (Emilio Estevez) to the airport after the son has made the decision to drop out of graduate school and travel the world. The son asks the father to join him on his journey and the father tells him that “my life here might not seem like much to you, but it’s the life I choose” and the son looks at him and makes what appears to be a very simple statement about life, “you don’t choose a life, dad. You live one.” This flashback scene takes place after the father is notified his son has died while walking through the Pyrenees on the beginning of his journey to walk The Camino de Santiago, also know as The Way of St. James. Tom (Martin Sheen) makes the trip to France to collect the remains of his son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), and makes the decision to walk the 500 mile trek from France to Spain to honor his son and complete the journey. What begins as a single focused goal of finishing his son’s journey, turns into a journey of self-discovery, an understanding of his son that he had failed to see in life, and a transformative walk with other pilgrims searching for answers to life’s challenges.
Unfortunately, although many are able to make a choice daily to consciously live a life, it appears for others that a journey of self-discovery begins in a fog of despair after loss, hardships or unhappiness. As we wake and face the reality of our lives in the morning mirror, how many of us realize we have fallen into a foggy abyss of forgetting the joys of living our life. Is the morning mirror that is fogged by the shower, obscuring the dreams, adventures and enjoyment of a life you planned on living only to be replaced, as you rub away the shower mist, by a ragged shadow of loss, regrets, responsibilities, and routine reflected in the dimness of your eyes as you think of the upcoming days events. In that moment, if you realize the glow of your smile is not only missing from the mirror, but also your heart, immediately stop and realize you need to recognize the fog of despair, loss, and confusion that is slowly seeping into your life before you lose sight of the life you meant to live and the bright skies in the days ahead.
Often the way we see and perceive life changes rapidly and life moves at such a fast pace that we are unaware that in some aspects we are going through the motions in a blur of activities and somewhere along the way we began to miss, take for granted and lose our sense of discovery in the life we’re living. For many the journey to self-discovery is made more difficult when it must be taken within the confines of careers, families, and responsibilities and not in the luxury of taking months to backpack across Europe, walk the Camino de Santiago or the Appalachian Trail, or travel the world to shock our senses and give us the time to contemplate life without the noise and expectations of our daily existence. It takes a strong individual, who in the midst of an ordinary day, can clear their mind of all obstacles and dark clouds to soar to the great heights of a truly lived life.