About fifteen months ago we set off to walk part of the Camino de Santiago trail to mark a significant transition in our lives. As we reached the post one year mark, we realized that we hadn’t continued to reflect on the profundity of this event as much as we would have liked to. As experiential educators we know that the learning comes from preparing for the experience, experiencing it, and then the equally important reflection on the experience. From this came our commitment to write one blog entry a month over the upcoming year to help us continue to make meaning of our time walking the Camino and its continuing impacts.
We were asked recently by our friends at Escape Outdoors in North Sydney, NS to come by and share some of our experiences on the Camino. What fun! Another opportunity to reflect and ponder. Curious too to see what we remembered at this point and what we didn’t. We hear others enjoyed the slides and so did we!!
Three primary affirmations/learnings came to us during our reflection in preparation for our presentation, as elements of “our” Camino that still are active in our lives to this day:
- There’s something quite amazing about walking every day – just walking. Yes, we did other things as well, including finding places to sleep, washing our clothes daily, searching for our snacks and meals, taking care of our feet, and so on. And yet everything was done to support our singular focus: Walking. Often in daily life we can feel pushed and pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Whereas for these three weeks everything revolved around walking. And so we now strive to approach our lives with this in mind – what is our singular meaningful focus? And how can all we do today help us to manifest this, rather than have our energy feel scattered in a million different directions? It’s a process!
- We didn’t need to worry about finding the way, The Way found us. We developed a routine that worked for us and our pace. It was slower than many but true to who we were and our intentions for this pilgrimage. Part of our work was to not judge ourselves for speed or seeming strength or preparation. We learned to laugh with the young man from Malta (who we jokingly named piston legs!) who stopped often at wayside bars or cafes and still managed to pass us several times every day as we trekked our own way forward. Such a good reminder of how important to be our authentic selves, no matter how different they may be, and to not compare ourselves to others. Judy had a great awakening experience about her “storyline” that her slower pace was due to her age and short height. It all made sense until the day she met another woman who was older than herself by close to 10 years, and who was maybe even a wee bit shorter – and wow did she trot up a storm!!! She left her in the dust after a great chat about life and her passion for walking.
- We were reminded too of how ephemeral relationships can be. We never knew from one day to the next on the Camino if we’d ever see someone again. Everyone walked at different paces, some had schedules to keep while others didn’t. Injuries meant layovers or taxi rides, so we just never knew whose path would cross with ours again. This has had us thinking about the ephemerality of friendships, family, and companions in general. We are trying to stay aware and to not take for granted that people will always be around, so to give our full attention to each in the moments we are together.
- No matter how much you prepare, the experience itself will surprise you. It’s important to prepare, and then to let go of preconceived ideas so as to have the adventure in the moment as it unfolds.
While we are no longer walking the Camino, we are clearly still following “the way” and are on a continued pilgrimage towards living a life of meaning!