Camino Audit #9 – Walking with my PGS

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.

Why?

I think i now know the reason. I'll tell you in tomorrow's last post for this blog.

 

17 thoughts on “Camino Audit #9 – Walking with my PGS

  1. Dear Bill, I didn’t have a name for it, but sounds like a lot like what I did as well. I had my first 3 days TOTALLY planned out and NOTHING worked as planned. Finally acknowledging the advice given by friends who “live and breath” camino each day, – Ingrid, the camino does not like plans -., I let go, and things fell into place. Each day was gift and those are gifts that give on giving, even today. I hope we keep in touch… would so love to hear about your “Aha” moments once you get back home and experience the continuing aftershocks. They are like little jolts and you will grin and say g’day mate, I hear you. Have a safe journey home.

    Ingrid

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    • Hi Ingrid,

      Haha, yes, the Camino does have a way of putting a mirror in front of you and demanding you look at yourself honestly, and with yourself fully naked.

      Sometimes it’s not pretty.

      And sometimes it is.

      Bill

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      • Hi Ingrid, will also be posting a contact page once I finish the blog, so we can stay in touch that way. And I might also do an e-book based on the blog. I’m investigating it.

        I’ve had more than 30,000 page views in a month – with no attempt at marketing or Search Optimization… Amazing, really.

        Bill

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  2. Following along with you. Our intuition told us to stop. Tomorrow will be tomorrow and we have no idea about the weather or where we will stay. I like not having goals to keep each day except to start out and go where OUR Camino takes us. When I get home I will reread all of your blog, if not while on the Camino. It really spoke to me and even more so as we experience the same footsteps.

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  3. I have followed your walk with interest and learnt from your insights. Your comments and observations manifest your spiritual growth and I appreciate your sharing them. I’m quite sorry this blog is coming to an end. Take care, and good luck on your PGS film. I’ll look forward to that.

    Rose (Canada)

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    • Dear Rose – thank you very much for posting this. It’s been an extraordinary privilege to be able to share my experiences. I think the film will benefit from my having walked the Camino.

      Thank you again for following the blog.

      Bill

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  4. I have been reading your blog and enjoying as you made discoveries about yourself. What you call PGS I call “going with the flow”. My husband likes to watch the weather channel while I prefer to just look out the window. My only plan is a reservation for Orisson the first night and if the upper path is closed we will back track and go the other way. The only technology I am bringing is a camera. My rain poncho doubles as a tarp if necessary for rain or sun. I leave on Monday morning so glad I will be able to catch your final installment before I go.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    • Hi Terri, leaving on Monday – you must be very excited. I hope it all goes well for you. Whatever happens, it will be an extraordinary experience, I’m sure.

      Thank you for following the blog. Last post coming tomorrow!

      Bill

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  5. Hey Bill, I love this post. It is just SOOO good. I copied it into an email and sent it to our daughter who is currently having a rest day in Burgos (and who also loves your blog).

    So… finally I’m going to ask you my $64 question on PGS. I’d love to get your thoughts:

    Is it coming from somewhere/something within you, or is it coming from somewhere/something outside of you?

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    • Hi Jim, Burgos is a wonderful city to hole up for a day. And prepare yourself for the Meseta.

      And to address your $64 question – that’s complex, and can’t be answered simply here.

      You’ll have to watch the film when it comes out!

      Bill

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  6. Bill, this chapter of your journey of life has been a most interesting and enlightening one. If only we could all spend a little more time being guided by our inner selves – you call it PGS. I call mine being guided by the Spirit. Others have different names.
    The parallel of Camino and life resonates with me. After all, it’s about the journey: the destination is ultimately the same- dust to dust etc.
    It has been such a privilege to share your blog, your pain, your joy, your experience. It seems you have had a profound influence on many, probably in ways you never imagined. Thankyou a thousand times over.
    Please keep us posted on the progress of the film.
    Blessings.
    Anne

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    • Dear Anne, it’s very very kind of you to say such things. Thank you.

      For my part, it’s been a privilege both to walk the Camino, and to be able to share it. And to have feedback such as yours is truly wonderful.

      Bill

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  7. Congratulations Bill and thank you for sharing your camino with us. I have avidly read your posts and loved your picutres. I do have one more question – will you walk the camino again? I was amazed to find that people do it several times, and before we (my husband and I) went last year, I could not even conceive of a second attempt. But now we are. It was suggested to try a different season, which we will do next year, in the same months you walked.
    With very best wishes
    Kay

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    • Haha – when I finished the Camino 10 days ago, I swore I would not only never walk it again, but I’d never do ANY walking again!

      But now…. Hmmm, Le Puy to St Jean, then cutting up and doing the del Norte to Satiago – what would that be, what, about 1500 kms?

      Now that’s starting to appeal….

      Bill

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