Day 22 – Beauty

I left late this morning – 8:30am. I had some business stuff to attend to before I left, and also I was in no rush. I had the whole day to walk to Astorga, about 24 kms away. I was looking forward to getting to Astorga, not only because it's meant to be a beautiful town (and it is), it's also two thirds of the way to Santiago.

I looked at the map of Spain last night and couldn't believe how far I've walked so far.

Anyway, I set out, noticing that the temperature on the town's electronic gauge said 2 degrees C, and found that the path lead away from the highway down some beautiful tracks.

I stopped by an old abandoned shed in a field. It had a yellow arrow on it, and it just looked beautiful, so I took some shots. As I was doing this, a couple who'd stayed at my albergue last night walked up, with puzzled expressions on their faces.

What are you taking a photo of, they asked.

I nodded to the shed. Isn't is beautiful, I said. The simplicity of it.

They looked at the shed like they were looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, trying to figure out why it's worth $100m.

The man turned to me. It's simple, alright, he said, but it ain't beautiful.

He slapped me on the back sympathetically, the subtext being that I should get back on my medication really fast. Then he walked on, sneaking a relieved glance at his wife, as if they were lucky to be getting away from me with their heads still attached to their bodies.

I looked back at the shed. The guy was right. It was an old decaying farmer's shack, with a busted window. It was hardly the Sydney Opera House. Or the Chrysler Building. Or the Palace of Versailles. Yet I saw beauty in it, and he didn't.

He's a businessman from Newfoundland. I'm a film director. We see the world differently. There are things he would find beautiful that would probably not impact on me. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Every day, I'm astonished at the beauty around me, and that sustains me on this walk.

I'm sure that other people don't see the Camino the same way I do – I have a particular visual aesthetic. Everyone does. Some people see beauty in sunsets or sunrises. I don't. Some people see beauty in vast vistas. I see beauty in old doors and bales of hay.

But we all see beauty. That's the thing. And it feeds us in the subtlest of ways.

The day I walked 41 kms, what kept me going was the beauty. The beauty of the changing light, the beauty of the storm clouds, the beauty of the fields and the colours.

The beauty took away my fatigue. It took away my pain. It made me feel light. It energised me. It RELAXED me.

For me, beauty is like love. It affects you emotionally in similar ways. It affects you chemically. You shift into a different space. You disengage from the real world. You do feel lighter. You do feel stronger. You find yourself doing things you wouldn't ordinarily do.

For me, every day I see beauty on the Camino.

Here's some of what I saw today:




26 thoughts on “Day 22 – Beauty

  1. Points well taken. Here’s to seeing such beauty through my own eyes and lens. I, like you, try to find that beauty in what others might call unlikely places. You continue to inspire me. Buen Camino.


  2. Bill I am an on and off pilgrim from basque country and I really love the way you see the beauty of the Camino. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Bill, no biggie but if you want to know…I think your date stamp is off on your computer and blog.
    For example today’s post says May 2nd…but it should be about 9pm your time on the 1st…


  4. Bill,
    Another simple and beautiful scene on the way to Astorga today: the group of three walkers from Bologna playing music and singing at the rest stop at Santo Toribio.

    Bob and I missed seeing you in Leon and today in Astorga. We look forward to seeing you again on the way.



    • Oh Joan, where are you and Bob? I’m in Astorga in the San Javier albergue. I think I’ll stay in Rabanal tomorrow. Dying to see the buskers!!

      Hope you’re both holding up well.


  5. Bill, what technology are you using to blog as you’re traveling? Do you have an iPad? Laptop? Real camera or a smartphone? I’m getting ready to get a smartphone and trying to decide what features are most important for my Camino. Your blog is wonderful and your photos are great! Thanks for any information. – Kathy


  6. Hi Bill,
    My personal camino begins June 19 but in many ways it will be my second because of your blog! I especially liked the framing on Jackson Pollock’s shed window. Love the white “message board”.


  7. I love your vision of beauty. I am moved by simple images and the many incongruities found in life if you just stop to observe and be still. I always find photos of people fascinating. What was their story? How did they meet? But then, I read the obituaries in the newspaper and my family think I’m quite odd for doing so. I can see myself getting lost in a book of your images from the Camino.


  8. Bill, we have been following your experience with great interest – love your attitude and feel somewhat in tune -particularly with concept of beauty.


  9. I’m enjoying your pick of the subject matter, but your framing is pinching me a bit and I think you could be more aggressive in finding your exact viewpoint to take the photo from. The whole trip- maybe the meaning of “pilgrimage”, is to be able see that old stone barn with the window and trees on the end, the flowered vine flowing across the wall as wonderous and enlightening moments of sublime beauty……..and then walk on.

    With great respect and affection, let me once again lay out my perception of framing: The edge of the frame is the knife that cuts free what IS a photograph in the world from what you decide is NOT a photograph. It’s a very sharp, precise and dangerous tool. Like a surgeon you must cut with knowledge, precision, confidence and faith in your intuition. Set the image free floating in its exact proper space! Just look at the right end of the flowing vine.

    If I ever walk the camino I’m going to go hug that barn.

    Thanks for your all good works! You are a gift to the world, the power of God, walking the earth, expressed as Bill Bennet.


    • My framing is my framing. I consider it very deeply. I do not take a photograph without giving my framing a lot of thought. It is uniquely me. It always has been – in my movies too. Bill


      • Also, I am not cropping. These are jpegs straight from the camera, framed up on a LCD screen sometimes in bright sunlight.


      • Keep doing what you are doing the way you are doing it. For us laymen, it is perfect. On this point, I diverge from my cousin. I look forward to your post and pictures every day and give no thought whatsoever to framing. Buen Camino.


  10. I think we have a similar beauty aesthetic. Sunsets are too blatant. It’s actually pitiable that the couple didn’t see the beauty of that window and the little yellow arrow. Like a missing sense. The last two photos next to one another are quite stimulating. As you are walking you are making a hunting project of the journey as well….photographs, writing… I would be sorry if you stopped. But if you stopped would your mind stop working while your body continued working? Would you be less entertained? Would you keep the same images in your mind’s eye anyway. Just wondering. Musing. Again, I would be sorry if you stopped…it was a hypothetical. 🙂 I just know that when I’m out photographing my eye works differently than when I’m just moving through space. I appreciated seeing the photographs of industry finally… and yes there is beauty there too and like a hunter one can stalk it for the perfect shot.


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