Post Camino #4 – The Reasons for Pain

I wandered into a church today in Tui – on the Portuguese Camino, Spanish side of the border.

In a small alcove there was a statue of St. James, with his staff and his gourd – and then I noticed he was pointing to his exposed right knee, which was bleeding. And then I noticed an angel was trying to heal the knee.

So even St. James had knee issues!! And he was the ultimate “true” pilgrim!

My knee gave out on me on the second day coming down the treacherous rock-strewn hill into Zubiri. So many other pilgrims I met along The Way also had knee issues. But many others also had problems with blisters, shin soreness and tendonitis, archilles pain etc.

Okay – let’s move into the metaphysical. Louise Hay. Some of you may have heard of her. Some may not. She’s a metaphysical healer, and author. Her books have become classics. Heal your Life has sold more than 50 million copies.

Essentially what Louise Hay says is that injuries or medical issues have an emotional or psychological basis. Knee problems, she says, stem from being stubborn and having an unbending ego and too much pride.

Hmmm – let me see… is that me?

I have to dig really deep inside myself to see if I tick that box.


That deep search took all of 3 nanoseconds.

She also says that knee issues show a resistance to change.

Yep, tick that box too.

That took 2 nanoseconds.

I probably started out my Camino being stubborn, having too much ego, and too much pride. I’m not quite sure because my ego and pride stopped me from seeing that time clearly.

Yet, I can be accused of being resistant to change. I like to do things my way, the way I’ve always done them, the way they should be done. Which most times is my way. Because it’s the best way.


Ego? Nah…

Anyway, the Camino changed all that. Because my knee humbled me. It reduced my ego and pride to tatters. It forced me to be flexible about the way I was going to approach the rest of the walk, and it has since caused me to reassess a whole bunch of things in my life. In other words, it’s induced change in me.

My wife reminded me of a phone call we had when, she said, I was at my lowest ebb. She said that in the thirty-two years of us being together, she’d never heard me so down.

I was in Santa Domingo de la Calzada. I was in a huge amount of pain – from my knee, from excruciating shin soreness, and from a blister that had taken on gargantuan proportions. The substance of the call, she reminded me, was my utter anguish and despair at how I could complete the Camino. It seemed an impossibility.

I was very emotional. I’d set my heart on walking the Camino, but even though my will-force was strong, my body was thwarting me. Thwarting my dreams.

But, two of the most dangerous and destructive things in life are self doubt and self pity. I was doubting my capacity to overcome these physical obstacles. I was allowing myself to wallow in self pity.

My wife reminded me that it was just a walk – that I’d chosen to do it – and that of course I’d complete it, it was just a matter of how long it would take, and how much pain I would suffer. She also reminded me I’d done tougher things in my life.

I’m a film director. It’s tough directing a movie. Very tough. And film directors are, by nature, stubborn people. With egos. We have to be, otherwise our movies never get made, or they get made all wishy washy and without a particular vision.

But, the best film directors are also flexible. They see opportunities as they make their movies, they take on fresh and new ideas, they bend, without breaking. The best ones often subsume their ego and pride for the betterment of the movie.

The Camino has its own lessons for each of us. For me, I have to embrace change. I have to bend more. I have to be more flexible.

I have to remember that statue in that church in Tui, and that little angel trying to help St. James.

With his crook knee…

St. James LS

St. James' angel

16 thoughts on “Post Camino #4 – The Reasons for Pain

  1. Bill,
    Wow! That is an awesome statue and you are an excellent storyteller. I am sure you are expressing your feelings and you do it SO WELL!! Keep them coming!!



    • Haha – yep, had to laugh when I saw it was his knee, and his RIGHT knee at that – which is the knee I’m having problems with!

      Thanks Debbie!



  2. Your post speaks volumes to me. I have control issues and resist change. Wow. And I have knee problems. Thank you for the insight.


    • Hi Rose – yep, control’s a good one too! Not sure which part of the body that corresponds to. Louise Hay’s book is worth reading if you’re interested in exploring further.



  3. Bill, Jill just mentioned that you were not getting my blogs. I then realized I was not getting yours either but I was getting the comments, so it seemed like I got the posts because I would download them from the comments. I went into managing the blogs I follow and saw that somehow I had been detached from getting instant posts from you, but still got comments. I have corrected that. How it got that way I don’t know, but I think it is corrected now. I miss your comments and the connection. We have had kind of a slow go. Stayed in Logrono last night and only came about 13 K to Navarette today. Jill has had heel problems as I think you know. I whined a little in my blog today saying that I did not know whether we would complete the Camino or not and that I did not have any underlying commitment to do so as you did. Having said that, I don’t like to quit things I start. The weather has really gotten us both down I think and made this thing harder to us than it should be or maybe we are just wimps. We decided to only do 18 K tomorrow and send packs ahead. Jill wanted to see if that gave her heel a break, and I did not want her to feel like a wimp, so I did it to. Nice of me, don’t you think. I read in your blog how low you were when speaking to your wife about your miseries. You continue to give me inspiration. Hope we get on track. You might see if you are no longer getting my blogs through the blogs I follow site on dashboard. I am still having trouble responding a lot of times without it showing me anonymous. Maybe I will figure it out before we finish. Hope we get back on line together. The only reason you wont see a post from me is if I can not access wifi, and then it will post the next night. I am committed to posting daily unless technical difficulties interfere.


    • Hey Steve, good to hear from you. Jen and I are following you guys closely and wondering how you’re going. Seems like the weather has done a real switcheroonie since I did mine. I mean, it’s meant to be getting warmer and sunnier for goodness sakes! The weather can have such a debilitating effect in your mood and confidence.

      The only advice I can give you is to just hunker down in a nice place for a few days and have some good food and wine, and relax and don’t even think about the Camino for a while. Just enjoy each others company in a romantic country for a bit. And you’ll be surprised how quickly your bodies, and spirits, revive.

      By the way, WordPress is a pain in the butt. I have daily issues with it. It’s overly complicated, and doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.

      Hang in there mate. It WILL get better.



      • Glad to hear from you too. I knew you would have uplifting advice for us as you have been giving it to yourself so long now. We will be fine. Had dinner with two French women today who walk 15 days a year together, and they spent last night in Los Arcos, so walked about 40 k today. Made us feel ashamed. Hopefully Jill’s heel will get better and not bother her. I am find except for my feet being sore, but only the one small blister on the end of my toe and the antibiotic is knocking out my sore throat. As you can see, Jill and I differ on antibiotic use. Only my second time in a year so that is OK with me. Off to bed and glad we are connected again. Jill was disconnected from me also and I from her and from you. Go figure.


  4. Bill, your blog is way too close to truth for me. Ouch. As I have mentioned before, you are really giving valuable lessons long before I set foot in Spain. I too, have knee issues- right knee at that. I am a bit of a control freak (school principal), I like things done a certain way, sometimes my ego gets in the way. I’m off to buy the book.
    If these are my lessons now, the ones awaiting me on the Camino are quite scary.
    Look forward to your continued writings and reflections. Go gently.
    Blessings. Anne


    • Hi Anne – you’ll find Louise Hay’s book fascinating, if you accept her underlying principles. And the lesson’s on the Camino? They sneak up on your sometimes, and sometimes they wallop you over the back of the head.

      (or on the knee!)

      But that’s the reason to walk it, no?



  5. What a beautiful statue of St James Bill, and even more so with the layers of your story overlaying it. This has been stored away for future reference!!


    • Hi Vida, yes, the statue was very cute. And very funny about the knee – never seen that in a statue of St. James before!



  6. I joined your stubborn, prideful, bum knee club today, darn it. Climbed 600 agonizing meters in 6 kilometers, but it was the nasty tumble on the way down that put me in your club. Fortunately nobody saw me so my ego is still intact. ; )


  7. Hello Bill, enjoying your reflections and what a great pic of the pilgrim saint. Whilst in Portugal, did you have a chance to go and listen to Fado music. My favorite Fado singer is Mariza… in the group, scrolling down a few months, there is a song posted, in case you are curious. Well, you must be on your way home soon. Myself, now reading up on some other camino routes… want to keep it closer to the water this time, so there a few option. Itchy feet already, next walk only a year away. 😉

    p.s. checking in on Bill’s and Jill’s blog alternate days, proof positive again that each of us walk our own camino.


  8. As always, you continue to inspire! I leave for Spain on Friday and head out on the way from Leon on Monday (6/3). My blog is called FishersWay if you want to follow. I will not be as articulate or eloquent as you but will do my best to capture my journey. Thanks again Bill!!!


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