I’m recycling some older writing for my first post. I know there are quite a few people on my list who haven’t seen it and it’s still relevant. Buen Camino!
few years ago I boldly announced to my friends on Facebook that I intended to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Why in the world would I want to follow an ancient pilgrim’s road 500 miles across Northern Spain to end up at a Cathedral that has no spiritual significance for me?
I love adventure and conventional travel has never suited me. The thought of walking through picturesque medieval villages, finding my way solo through unknown territory and enjoying the company of people I meet along the way is very appealing. Plus, it’s not like the Appalachian Trail. In Northern Spain one is never more than a few kilometers from the next village with all the services a pilgrim might require. No need to carry a tent or food.
There’s also something very appealing about slowing down and putting the rest of life on hold for a while. To wake up in the morning with nothing to do but walk, walk as far as one can, and then stop to rest, is an exercise in meditative living. It is the journey that is important, not the destination. With the act of slowing down comes paring down. Carrying everything you need on your back for days on end in all kinds of weather forces you think about what is really necessary to your well-being and comfort.
That’s the poetic stuff, it sounds great, and yes it’s all true. But there was no way at the time I could have bought a plane ticket, flown to Spain and started walking. I was out of shape and seriously overweight. At the time I thought this would be a goal to work for and provide the motivation I needed to get my butt in gear. Two mistakes here. The first mistake was overestimating the resiliency of my aging body. Every time I started walking daily my knees and feet would begin to ache and sometimes my hip would chime in too. After several false starts I knew that some weight had to come off before I could begin training.
My second mistake was forgetting that the Camino is a metaphor for life. It’s about the journey and this journey has had to take a detour away from Santiago, at least for the moment. In the last year or so I’ve learned that lasting change involves much more than diet and exercise. It has brought some radical changes in my life. Changes I’m still coming to terms with and will write about in future posts.
I don’t know if I’ll every make it to Santiago de Compostela, at least on foot, but I have learned that I’m already walking the Camino. We all are.