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Finding My Way

Sheree BurlingtonComment

This digital self portrait was designed using one of the canvases I made last week during my Mixed Media Mantra e-course. I scanned one of my favorite backgrounds, added some digital textures, vintage imagery and a modified photograph of myself, taken during a moment of intense introspection. While I've been known to use my eyes or face as a tongue-in-cheek signature, this is my first serious use of my own likeness. There is a certain amount of detachment necessary when working with self - an appreciation for one's own humanity, for the lines and creases that define a life. There is an unselfconscious, world-worn tiredness to this woman's expression that makes me want to know, and tell her story. 

Self portrait of Sheree Burlington - Camino de Santiago

In 2010 I saw the movie "The Way," starring Martin Sheen. The story is about a man whose son dies on the Camino de Santiago, a thousand year old walking trail in the North of Spain. When he goes to retrieve his son's body, he decides to honor him by finishing his 500 mile walk and is transformed by the experience. In ways that I could not understand or describe, I was captivated by the idea of this walk. It called to me like a distant memory and I thought about it for weeks. 

On Monday, 07.13.15, a pin about the Camino turned up in my Pinterest feed. I followed the link, read some of the content and found myself overcome with emotion. Emotion so heavy that when asked about the tears, I was unable to speak. I can only describe it as a kind of longing, almost like homesickness - words that can't touch the intensity of the feeling. It stayed with me all evening, when I woke in the middle of the night and in the morning when I opened my eyes. 

Guided by the milky way, The Way of St. James follows a pre-Christian Roman trade route. For many, The Way is a religious pilgrimage - a search for a spiritual connection. For others, it is a quest for healing, forgiveness, self discovery. My reasons for being drawn to this journey are less easily defined. A woman I've not met said these words to me: "The Camino is a rare and beautiful gift. If it is calling you, it has something special to give to you. Just say Yes, and watch it has already begun." 

Camino de Santiago Map

Yesterday, I spent the entire day online, watching videos. Reading blog posts. Studying packing lists. By the end of my work day, I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew that next summer I would walk the Camino de Santiago. Alone.