It was in a dimly lit speakeasy in Manhattan behind an unmarked entrance. I noticed the tatt on the inside of her left wrist, but couldn’t make it out. “Ultreya,” she said, and told me the intriguing story behind it.

A family tragedy inspired her to walk the 1,000 mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain — a holy place in Catholicism where the body of St. James was interred after spreading the news in that region of Jesus’ resurrection. For over a thousand years, the difficult and demanding pilgrimage has been seen as a spiritual test for many and an awakening for all.

She never made her pilgrimage. As she was training for it, another family tragedy changed her plans. But to memorialize the awaking that did happen within her, she got that tattoo as a constant reminder — Ultreya. 

That is what the locals in Spain shout to the pilgrims as they push on and the pilgrims shout to each other as they first catch a glimpse of the shrine and their journey’s end: “Ultreya! Ultreya! Keep going! Go on! You can do it! Onward! Upward!” 

“Ultreya” has become a universal call to be echoed inside oneself when going through tough times — that there is a reason and a higher purpose beyond all hardships.

Economic tough times? Ultreya, ultreya! Call upon the courage within you to keep pushing for better ways to create better times.

Lost among so much change? Don’t know where to turn? Ultreya, ultreya! Call upon the will within you to keep pushing to find the answer.

Tough family or personal or health challenges? Ultreya, ultreya! There is something bigger than you inside of you. Call upon it. That’s what it’s there for!

Stupid boss? Stupid work? Stupid meeting? Ultreya, ultreya! Call upon the courage to hit Delete or to ignore it or get past it. You are better than that silliness.

No matter how tough your journey, no matter what it entails… Guaranteed… There is somebody by your side or out in the distance, calling out to you… “Ultreya, ultreya! You can do it!”

Listen to those voices. Find your own within you. Listen to the sound of your own heartbeat: Ultreya, ultreya! Ultreya, ultreya!  

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