I started out this blog saying that I was going to walk the Camino with my PGS – which is what I call my intuition. My Personal Guidance System.
Usually, I'm very organised and I plan everything, particularly travel, down to the minutest detail. I don't leave anything to chance.
Not the Camino.
I was going to let The Way guide me. I wasn't going to plan anything. I was going to totally “wing it.” I was going to feel each moment and decide what felt right and what didn't, then act on it.
Also, I was determined not to walk with fear – fear of not having a bed for the night, fear of getting blisters or sustaining an injury, fear of rain or snow. I didn't want fear to stifle my walk. To corrode the experience.
How did I go?
I went pretty damn well.
To give you some examples: I never worried about where I'd end up of an evening, or if there'd be a bed. I figured out early on that at the very worst, I could sleep in a field under a tree. That was a liberating moment for me – to know what was the worst thing that could happen to me. Knowing that, and knowing that I could handle that, freed me up enormously. So then I didn't worry.
Invariably I got a bed anyway, and often it seemed to be the last available bed in the town or village. But still, I didn't have to sleep in a field. And if I'd had to, then it wouldn't have been a big deal anyway.
Later, on a couple of occasions I sensed that I should pre-book, and I'm glad I did because O Cebreiro for instance on a Sunday was packed. I walked 32 kms that day, I wanted a private room and I knew I'd be in late. Again, I used my intuition, my PGS, to tell me what was the right thing to do.
I can talk about how I'd allow my PGS to guide me to absolutely the right place to have breakfast, or the right albergue to stay in, or the right people to meet along The Way – but I also used my logical mind too.
For instance, I never worried about the weather.
A lot of pilgrims were very fearful of what the weather would be like the next day, or next few days. They'd watch the forecasts on the tv in a bar, or they'd often refer to their iPhones which gave them up to date weather reports. Many times they told me with foreboding that there was snow up ahead, or heavy rain.
I never worried. I refused to worry about things I couldn't control. If it snowed, it snowed. If it rained, it rained. I had gear to handle both. But it never snowed, and it hardly ever rained. I figured why get concerned over a weather forecast? The weather is so unpredictable in that part of the world, nine times out of ten the forecasters are wrong.
There were a couple of times I over-rode my intuition as well. The one I regret the most is not staying at the small town before Sahagun, and hanging out with Ben (the South African chemical engineer) and Boris. I would have enjoyed their company and learnt things, I'm sure. Instead I walked on and had a very ordinary evening by myself.
Using your intuition means you have to trust. I trusted that I would have a wonderful Camino. With good weather and trouble free. I had good weather. But I also had some problems. A knee that went bad on me a couple of days into the walk.
But here's the thing –
Two years ago, my wife and I were in Spain, working, and during that time I drove as many sections of the Camino Frances as I could. I wanted to scope it out, thinking even at that stage that later I might come back and walk it.
I remember driving along a narrow back road west of Sarria, through some farming land, and I distinctly remember seeing a fellow with a big knee bandage limping heavily.
That image stuck with me. During the intervening two years, I thought about that bloke a lot. How much pain he appeared to be in, how much determination he must have had to have come so far, and to be continuing on. Often when I thought about walking the Camino, I thought of that injured man.
Did I create my own knee problem? Did I manifest that image, that suffering, for myself?
I can't say. All I can say is that it was something I remembered vividly, then two years later, there I was – limping along that same back road, wearing a similar knee bandage.
You have to be so careful, because what you focus on, you can create.
Overall though, spending those 31 days letting go – having no control over outcomes – was truly liberating. I trusted that the Camino would provide.
And it did.
There are so many lessons I've learnt that I can now apply to my Post-Camino life.
If what Ivan's Italian priest said is correct – that the first stage of the Camino is life, the middle section, the Meseta, is death, and the arrival into Santiago is rebirth – then I have now shifted into my new Self.
And already I can feel it.
My PGS guided me to do the Camino. I'm not a walker as such, and as I've stated before, I'm not Catholic and not religious. But I did have a strong need to do this walk. To do this pilgrimage.
I think i now know the reason. I'll tell you in tomorrow's last post for this blog.