I’ve been thinking about this blog post for a few days, I even posted some learnings from the Camino on my Facebook page, with tongue in cheek, partially at least. But I was thinking about some of the deeper learnings of the last 3 weeks.
Respect the undertaking. The walking of 800km, as with many challenges in life, should not to be taken lightly. Prepare well and face the task with a humble heart. The Camino has a way of exposing your weaknesses and presents opportunities for learning and personal growth if you are open to the experience.
Respect and care for yourself. I always thought it went against the grain but there is a reason, on airplanes, you are asked to attend to your own oxygen mask first before helping others. If you don’t take care of yourself you are unable to help those around you. We saw that first hand in a pilgrim friend who gave of herself until we found her a few days later at a hostel broken and injured from over exertion.
Faster is not always better. As the weeks have passed, we have seen and heard of pilgrims either grinding to a snails pace or a total halt as a result of going too hard and/or too fast. 20-30km is a long walk but manageable for those who are fit. But 20-30km day after day, week after week for 5-6 weeks or more is an entirely different matter. If you don’t listen to your body it will scream until you are listening and by that time it could be too late.
Be patient. Be patient with yourself, allow yourself time to recover at the end of the day. Don’t rush to your goal, you will reach Santiago when the time is right and wishing the miles away won’t help you get there any faster and you miss the experience of the now.
Worrying about things doesn’t change anything and just sucks the joy out of your present. Up to this week we had left our finish date and flight booking open, the journey would take as long as it took. For various reasons we made a flight booking earlier this week and over the next few days I noticed that the freedom and relaxed approach I had on the journey was suddenly gone and I was feeling the pressure of a deadline. When I became aware of the subtle but important change I made a concious decision to let go of the worry and walk each kilometer as it came and to enjoy each step. That decision has brought back the joy and relaxed step I had earlier.
This may contradict some of what I said earlier but complacency has the potential to sink the ship. We are walking well and feeling good but almost daily we remind ourselves that complacency could have a Camino damaging or even ending effect. The rhythm and daily procedures we have put in place work, they have kept us safe and healthy, now is not the time to experiment.
All that and we are only half way, excited for the next leg of our adventure. One step after another.