When my siblings and I were children, almost as soon as we got into the car with our parents to go someplace, one or another of us would ask, “are we there yet?” The question would be repeated with some frequency. Although they were doubtless annoyed with our repeated queries, me parents were able to tell us with reasonable accuracy when we would reach our destination.
Today I took the Calzada Romana from Calzadilla de Los Hermanos to Mansilla de las Mulas. The Calzada Romana is described as the most perfect extant stretch of Roman road left in Spain today. There is absolutely nothing on this stretch of roman road between my starting point and ending point. No town. No park areas. No real landmarks.
When a day’s walk is broken up by towns or sites, it is possible to mark progress by my guide book. So, reaching town X, I know I’ve walked 5.6 kilometers; at the next I know I am halfway through my day’s walk, and so forth.
When the whole day is one unbroken road, however, there is no way to judge progress. I knew I had to walk 24.5 kilometers to get to the town where I planned to stop for the day, but had no idea where I was at any point along the way. I couldn’t even estimate based on my rate of walking on other days, as I knew the rain and muddy road slowed my normal pace.
I think we have a natural tendency to seek ways to measure our progress, no matter what the arena. And we are uncomfortable when we lack reliable means to do so.
But it can also be very freeing to simply move forward without worrying about where we are in relation to the goal (however that is defined). And I found it so today (despite the rain and the mud).