The Way of St James

There’s a quote attributed to Goethe that says: “When a human awakens to a great dream and throws the full force of his soul over it, all the universe conspires in your favour.”

I’d say: when one begins a journey of transformation, the hardest part is the beginning. After the first step, the journey reveals itself.

At 23, I left home to do the Way of St James.

I knew very little about it. The year was 1995 and I vaguely knew that it was a pilgrimage to a cathedral and that (a pilgrimage to a cathedral) wasn’t exactly a Jewish practice.

I was taking this trip as an escape. Escaping a university I detested and a life that hadn’t become what I had planned.

I just thought: I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE. And so I went.

If I tell you that my life changed after this voyage, it’d be an understatement.

My life would never be the same.

On the second day of walking, I met an old man (yes, he was the same age I am today, but to me he was an old man) who did puppeteering and internally I decided I had to become his friend.

I spent the next 750km in this determination, and when we reached Compostela, he invited me to visit him and his wife in Germany, where they had a puppeteering company for more than 20 years, and with which I had my first participation in a theatre festival in 2000, beyond working in several other projects.

These lines don’t fit ALL the changes that happened in my life because of this encounter, but what I’d like to say today is that they wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had the willpower of taking the first step and going travelling.

Taking the first step is breaking an endless cycle. It is really what demands most strength. Other challenges follow, but breaking the barrier of habits is, no doubt, the greatest courage – and where lies the possibility of human transformation.

If there is anything that connects this voyage of mine to the holiday of Pesach, it’s certainly this:

Leaving any place, as uncomfortable as it is, is not easy. But it’s in this exit that lies the possibility of finding a new life!


Andi Rubinstein is a storyteller and puppeteer. Her instagram is @andirubinstein.