This word has been bouncing around in my head over the past few weeks or so. I first heard of it while walking the Camino. It comes from "the ancient Galacian language", originally from the Latin word "ultra". I was walking mainly through the province of Galacia which is why I must have heard it spoken a few times.
A couple of days after returning home I discovered what this word meant and how it was used. It was a common greeting used by medieval pilgrims walking the Camino that means essentially, "walk further", "walk higher", "move forward", or "onward". So basically, the people walking the path were encouraging each other to 'keep going' in their standard greeting to each other as they passed along the way. I can see, after having walked it, how appropriate and great this is...considering the substantial amount of discomfort one can be in after hours and hours of walking a day, and how easy it can be in certain moments to want to give up completely. Even just a simple encouragement from a stranger can mean a lot in a situation like that.
As I so often do, I started concocting cheesy life metaphors with this word. After returning from Spain, the basic theme of my life seems to be "Move forward...Ultreia". I do feel like tatooing this word somewhere on my body where I can always see it, to serve as a constant reminder that this is now, and shall ever be, what my life is about. Yes this may seem somewhat juvenile or naive or what-have-you. But ironically at a time when, by all logical standards I should be feeling the most disillusioned, bitter, and hardened against life I actually feel the opposite - for the most part. Like he universe has given me a second chance. To do this thing right. To try not to be hankered too much by the past.
I also feel like a closet zealot, because I have the urge quite often lately to grab random people by the shoulders, look them squarely in the eye and say something along these lines: "Don't you get it? This is all you've got, this is your one shot: your one tiny blip of time on this spinning planet. So run like all hell towards your ultimate desire and hope. Chase it. Because its actually true that today could be all you have. A few hours, days, weeks or years, and you'll be gone. A memory. And so will all of the glory and brevity of this: your life."
Of course, I'm not that crazy. So don't worry - I've never actually done this.
On the total flip side and another note...today at a coffee shop the guy at the counter asked me how my day was going, and when I gave him the standard response ("pretty good, thanks") he told me that he thought I looked 'somewhat sad and angry'?!?! This caught me completely off guard because I didn't think I was feeling this way at all. Does my face totally betray me? Wowsers. Anyway, after thinking about it a little, I realized that under the surface, some core part of me does feel a little like this. Because that's life. Sadness and anger make up a big part of it at times. The daily coping, and struggling, and...just living. It's the dark side of the glory. And I'm okay with it. Always have been.
There you have it.