Post Camino #23 – Why walk it again?

I remember walking into Santiago and thinking: I’ve done it. I’m here. I’ll never walk the Camino again.

Less than a week later, I’d changed my mind.

I remember the moment when I changed my mind. I was in a train heading down to Porto. I looked out the window and I saw a pilgrim on the Portuguese route. The train was up high, so I was looking down on her. She was on a small country lane and she had her guidebook out. She was lost.

I could see, from my higher vantage point, a yellow arrow pointing the way, but from where she was, she couldn’t see it.

I got a sudden pang of… what was it… longing. I wanted to be down on that country lane, wearing my backpack again, looking at a guidebook, trying to find that yellow arrow. It was at that moment I knew that I’d would walk the Camino again, and I’d walk through Portugal.

What is it about the Camino that draws people back?

For me, I have no desire to walk the Coast to Coast walk in Britain, nor the Appalachian Trail nor the Pacific Crest in the US, nor some of the glorious walks we have here in Australia. Long distance walking as such doesn’t interest me.

It’s the Camino that’s become my obsession.

Why?

Today I asked that question of Steve – a bloke from Texas I’ve “met” through this blog. We’ve become good friends. He’s just finished his Camino. The camaraderie, he said. The people you meet.

Yes, I’d have to agree. The people who are attracted to the Camino, who are called to the Camino, are mostly wonderful extraordinary people.

But then I thought more on this, and thought that surely anyone walking the Appalachian Trail would be extraordinary too. That’s over 2,000 miles, and you have to carry more on your back than if you walk the Camino – a tent and all your food, for starters. There’s no sleeping in albergues and having cafe con leches whenever you want them.

So it has to be more than the people you meet. There must be something else.

And the conclusion I came to is that it’s a pilgrimage.

Whilst I couldn’t imagine walking the Appalachian Trail, or the Coast to Coast, I could imagine myself one day walking the Italian Camino through to Rome, or perhaps even the route to Jerusalem. (Knee allowing!) I certainly want to walk the Portuguese Camino back to Santiago again.

I should remind you all that I’m not Catholic, and I’m not religious as such. But like so many others, I’m inexplicably drawn to this notion of walking a pilgrimage route.

There are pilgrims I know of who’ve walked the Camino six and eight times. Some have walked more. They never tire of the journey, and they see something new each time. They experience something new each time.

I understand there’s a very real danger of living in a Camino Cocoon – that it’s much easier to live in the “Camino” world than the “real” world. That it’s a place of escape from all those difficulties we all face in everyday life. A nice little bubble where everything is simple, and people are nice and friendly. (Most of the time!)

That’s not the reason I’d like to walk the Camino again.

I can’t get out of my mind that image, from on high, of that lost pilgrim somewhere in northern Portugal.

I want to get lost again.

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73 thoughts on “Post Camino #23 – Why walk it again?

  1. I agree, Bill, that getting lost on the Camino should definitely be part of the experience! I’m not at all religious, but certainly have been on a spiritual journey for many years and my time (short as it was) on the Camino definitely added to that spiritual journey … nor did I mind the wino tinto at the end of the day!!!

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  2. Bill, the modern world is all about getting ahead, compiling possessions, meeting the right people, winning, being a success. There is very little room left for the spiritual, and sadly fewer and fewer places to explore what it means to you. But the spiritual part of a whole person won’t stay quiet forever, and once it awakes and you start to nourish it, its grows and becomes more demanding. Whether a person is religious or spiritual when they begin the Camino, their PGS, as you like to call it, very quickly recognises where it is-personally I think its the soul/spirit imprint on the Camino itself that calls out and awakens a longing, a thirst for more meaningful living.And once woken, you spirit demands more with a hunger as real and insistent as a bodily hunger. I believe thats why we are called back again and again to some kind of pilgrimage experience-and the Camino has everything a peregrinocould ever want.

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    • Sister – once again you’ve beautifully articulated what might well be happening here.

      That soul imprint sure does have its hooks into not only me, but hundreds and thousands of others like me too – those that don’t go to church, don’t pray in a formal sense – and yet we draw nourishment, as you say, from walking this ancient pilgrimage route.

      thank you – Bill

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    • Sister I love hearing your input, A calm and steady voice that bids a bit of wisdom, if you would care to look in on my husbands blog it would be so great to get your insight as His/ our journey begins. We are first off to Bali in mid July, where we will spend time with an educational charity that we have been involved with (helping in the impoverished remote village.) My husband will continue around the globe to walk another stage on the camino. Last year we went on a different Pilgrimage first to Medjegorjie, then Lourdes and then our first stage of the Camino. Which was a gorgeous, stunnning and difficult walk from ST Jean to Pamplona. Each spot held some powerful lessons.
      Now a year has passed and after our Bali trip my husaband will get to walk 3 weeks, (he will be between jobs) I am hoping to get to jump in for the last week and celebrate our 30th anniversary on the camino. God willing. At any rate, I would just love to read any words of insight you have as he/we make our way. Rambler1959.wordpress.com will be his sight.
      blessings! Kat

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      • Kat, what an interesting journey!What were your thoughts about Medjugordjie?There is still a lot of controversy within the Church as to whether its a genuine site, or not. I’ll be happy to follow your blog–thanks for the invitation.

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      • Sister, I am not sure if I am responding in the correct space so you may not see this, But I was very touched by Medjugorje, I do believe that the apparitions are real. The church is just stuck in the rules to authenticate it. I had wanted to goto since I was 18 and so 30 some odd years later I had alot of expectations. most of those were not met. But it is a lovely village and the people were amazing and warm. The hike onto the hills, being surrounded by such devoted believers was very inspiring. I was frustrated on the day before we were leaving that I did not have get an amazing experience after participating in everything that we could squeeze in. And as we trudged up Cross mountain praying I thought this is where I will feel it. Nothing. So on the way down I was a bit mad that we would leave without an”experience” and I was asking “what is it I am supposed to gain from this then” A clear Knowing came to me on the way down- 1-You know what you need to know 2- Its less about the doing and more about the being. I felt a little embarrassed and really grateful for this very simple powerful message.

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        • Hi Kat. I have never been to Medjugordge but I know the Church is strange about who they authenticate and which places are holy, or not. I don’t put much stock in their evaluations, frankly, because a spiritual/metaphysical place is about experience-and if the evaluator doesn’t feel it, does that make thousands of others wrong? It has to be a subjective experience for each person. Im sure you have found places that trembled with Spirit and holiness that you have walked alone.So I can’t make a judgement on its authenticity. I used to think it was genuine when a Swiss monk I respect said it was a scam,so I just don’t know. The bottom line is that any place revered and visited by spiritual people picks up a blessedness from their presence;and any spiritual or sensitive believer can have a personal experience of God, anywhere. Your heart will speak the truth(or lack thereof) of what you have felt.

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      • Yes the the thing I have really found is that it is not so much the place that is sacred as much as the slowing down, being inwardly present in the moment and connection. Escaping all that bombards you and pulls you away from your own sacred center helps to get there as well, and It is inspiring to be around others that are genuine and open to their sacred source, wether it be in a Balinese temple, a church, a mountaintop, or the Camino. Its all an amazing and continuous discovery and everyday can provide little moments like this if we are open and looking. Small miracles !!love em, Something that makes me grateful every day.

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        • Sister and Kat, I am reminded of the old saying that when the student is ready the teacher will come. Well, I believe it is the same way with our spiritual quests. When we are ready to receive the spirit will come to us and it does not matter where we are. The nice thing about the Camino is that it tends to allow us to remove a lot of other obstacles from our minds and open them more fully, so perhaps it is easier to receive the spirit. Continuing to maintain it is the trick. Steve

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    • Sister, Maybe that is what I am feeling that draws me back and keeps me thinking there is more to my life than I have realized yet. As you know, I have had the “things” in spades, and you are so right in that they do not satisfy. I no longer have them, and guess I had to lose them in order for my attention to be properly directed, assuming it is now. It is a constant struggle for me to keep in focus what in life is truly important. I don’t miss the things, but I still don’t always keep in focus where I should be putting my thoughts and energies today. Perhaps that is what drew me to the Camino — this search for more meaning in life. I just get up each day with an open mind, or at least try to. Steve

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      • Hi Steve, Its funny, but I thought tonight Id read through all your posts before I began to answer them. Wow Steve!!!!! Do you realise that you have yourself answered every question you asked me?And answered with excellent self knowledge and sensitivity. I’m redundant!How wonderful!Seriously, read them over, and then see if there’s anything you still want to discuss, or anything else that comes to mind. I will respond, but I want to.give you a few minutes.Also I hate to mess with perfection.I am honestly very impressed with you!

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      • Well then, my dear and humble friend, lets go through them one by one as they arrived in my inbox.
        I don’t know any human beings with integrity who DON’T wonder if they are placing their thoughts and energies in the right place.All we can do is decide for ourselves where that right place should be, and try. I like to do a review of what happens each day. It helps me see where I’m slipping off track, and gives me pretty good indications why. I usually suggest to people that they keep a small.spiritual.journal specifically for keeping track of these things;as well as a daily insight and gratitude journal. These can all be in note form,unless you want to write it out in prose.I ‘d advise:start with an open mind(as you said) and a prayer, then check back with yourself at the end of your day.

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  3. Bill, as you know for I have said it many times, “once bitten”. But I must say I like the way Sister explains the phenomenon – the soul/spirit imprint! That says it all, doesn’t it?

    Being the coordinator for a local chapter of APOC, after every meeting my need to return to the Camino seems more urgent. Hearing the experiences of returning pilgrims and seeing their pictures so reinforces that need.

    I have not yet set foot back on the Camino Frances, that happens on September 15th this year, and I have already begun planning my Camino del Norte for the late summer/early fall of 2014. I suppose, like you, I will be tackling many pilgrimage routes in the future. The soul/spirit imprint seems to be working overtime in me.
    Arlene

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    • Arlene – there are two aspects to this. First, the calling. Some people are called to walk it. They don’t know why.

      It’s like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, building that mountain of clay in his living room. He didn’t know why. And there were other people in different parts of the world doing the same thing. It’s an energetic pull.

      And then there’s the repeat offender syndrome – those that have walked it want to repeat the offence! πŸ™‚

      Very strange!

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  4. Hello Bill,
    I have been following your posts for a while now and have loved hearing about your journey.
    We leave Brisbane for Portugal on Sept 1st and we will walk the coastal route from Porto to Santiago. Luckily we are able to take our time and enjoy the atmosphere and we are both looking forward to being back in Europe again.
    I first heard about the Camino in 2008 when we spent some time in France, and the village where we stayed was one of the routes. Ever since then I have been thinking about our own Camino.
    Like you we are not religious, but I’m sure we will ‘draw nourishment from walking this ancient pilgrimage route’

    Regards,
    Julie & Brian

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    • Hi Julie, are you going to do a blog on your trip? It would be great to see where you go, and what that coastal route is like.

      I think it would be beautiful, and not nearly as crowded as the Frances route.

      You must be very excited!

      Bill

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  5. You hit the nail on the head. “Get lost again” says it so well. I met a man from Italy who had walked last year also. He said all his questions had been answered on those long treks through Burgos and other barren stretches. When I asked him why he was walking again this year, he said “I have more questions”. A friend from Denmark finds herself staring out the window for long stretches a week after returning home. I am already dreaming I am there again. That Portuguese route along the coast sounds good.

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    • That’s so beautiful Donna – I have more questions.

      I met a fellow who was doing it a second time, within six months. I asked him why, and he said he wanted to see the things he missed the first time around.

      He said he often woke up early and headed off in the dark and would walk for a couple of hours before sunrise, so the second time around he wanted to see all those sections that he’d missed!

      Bill

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  6. Bill, yes, it is the pilgrimage, but would a pilgrimage be a pilgrimage without pilgrims? I think not, so for me it still gets back to the people we meet and maybe interact with or maybe just see along the way. Strangers drawn from all over the world with a coon mission. That to me is camaraderie. Steve

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    • Steve, would you say that the camaraderie of competitive body building, the working out and competing is the same as the camaraderie between pilgrims?

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        • I look forward to your answer, but it will probably bring more questions if that’s ok!

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      • Sister, There is a camaraderie among folks training in the gym, but not so much among those competing because for the most part, the group is very diverse and come from different gyms and really don’t know each other. Back in the golden days of bodybuilding when the top pros all seemed to train together in Venice, CA, I think it was very different. They all trained together and supported and coached each other and then went out and competed with each other in major professional competitions. I don’t think that exists at the pro level any more. The camaraderie I speak of on the Camino is the collection of like minded people enduring common hardships to reach a common goal and destination. It matters not whether you walk with others or walk alone, the camaraderie still exists. Someone commented to Bill earlier how it is that he and I both felt the camaraderie when we also professed to like walking alone. To me, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether we liked to walk alone or not. It is a much broader definition of camaraderie. I felt I was in camaraderie with all pilgrims. Maybe I was more so with those that I got to know on a more personal level or walked with for short periods of time, but all were my brothers and sisters. Hope this helps. Steve

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        • It sounds like you had some great times, especially when.body building was a younger sport.I agree with your description of the differences and similarities in both types of camaraderie.Part of the Camino bond happens because the pilgrims are all sharing the same personal phenomenon of being away from normal distractions. This gives a much needed opportunity to make an aquaintance with yourself again,to think and feel just for yourself in whatever direction you want to explore.For many,that choice is a complete opening, listening to whatever moves from mind, to heart, to spirit.This journey, for each, is aided and influenced by the soul/spirit imprint of the Camino.So you can hold on to the camaraderie even when walking alone because there are always at least two present-you,and the voice of the Camino.

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          • Sister, well said. The fewer distractions we have the louder the Camino can speak, and I agree with something that I think you said (someone did). The Camino will continue to speak to you long after it has been walked. I honestly don’t miss the sore feet, but I do miss most everything else about the Camino. I will definitely be back. Steve

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    • Very true Steve – but I met people who were self-professed vacationers – they had no interest in the spiritual aspects of the Camino, and would have been embarrassed to be called pilgrims.

      Several weeks later, they were converts. They’d BECOME pilgrims.

      That’s the magic of the Camino!

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  7. Okay, Steve (and Bill) don’t I remember somewhere in your blog that you liked walking alone? That it wasn’t about the people? It was your own experience, I love that change in your view of the Camino. Love Both everything that Steve and Bill have shared. Thanks for the blog posts! Looking forward to my next little stage. It is happening at what I might consider the worst time to go because of heat and numbers of pilgrims (August) but is when life circumstances are alowing us to get back to the Camino. Both your posta have helped me realize it doesnt matter, there willl be a blessing in it regardless. Bill you are such a talented photographer and writer–I will not tire of your entries!

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    • Kat – thank you for that!

      Steve, in his different time zone, is probably fast asleep right now, so I’ll respond for both of us – πŸ™‚

      Yes, we did both enjoy walking alone, but you can never be totally alone on the Camino, nor should you be. It’s inevitable that you’ll walk some kms with someone or other on any given day – or you’ll have a dinner at a large communal table at an albergue and get to talking with other pilgrims. That’s a very important part of the Camino experience.

      But for me, and I think for Steve too, having that time to be alone in your own thoughts as you walk is a very precious time. Steve walked for a long stretch with his wife – and yet they also had time to themselves as they walked. And they met pilgrims along the way who became friends.

      For me, what made the Camino such an emotional experience, in the end, was the friendships I made. Some will be friends for life, I’m sure.

      August hey? That will be amazing. The fields will be parched, and very beautiful, and you’ll probably have to walk some sections early in the morning, when it’s cooler.

      Don’t worry about crowds. There’s always enough of everything to go around.

      Funny how the Camino works like that…

      Bill

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      • I just rambled a bit to Sister Clare about our plans. My husband recently is finding himself “between jobs”. I have encouraged him that this is his time to be able to go for another longer stage than he would normally be able to go for. We already have plans to spend a couple of weeks in Bali, as we support some remote village schools (I am a teacher). So Mike will travel on around the globe to Spain to continue the pilgrimage that we began last year. I am hoping that after finishing the commitment in Bali get back to the US with my kids and join him for a week and our 30th anniversary on the Camino. Just plain folk with some unusual plans an oping the Camino wil provide for us in this little adventure. My husband has never been a blogger but if you care to join us on our route go to Mike’s blog Rambler1959.wordpress.com and sign on. We leave for Bali in July and then Mike goes on to Spain, hopefully me jining him.
        Can’t wait for the book! and a film. Kat

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        • hi kat – i went onto your blog just now and left a message.

          it will be cool following you and your husband.

          the work in bali sounds wonderful – you two have a very exciting time coming up!

          Bill

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      • Hi Bill,
        I am living in the basque country , at the foot of the camino del norte,at the beginning of the camino del interior, and very closed to saint jean pied de port, and the camino del baztan and close enough of the camino aragones.
        Often I pick up my backpack and go for a few days on one of them. I could choose one of the fantastic mountains trails we also have here, but no thanks you. Only on the caminos stretches. Why ? because only on the camino I can feel freedom, be myself, not being judge on my performance, my age, the equipment i have.
        I can find the camaraderie I will not experience on the other trails where young basques treckers passe me (an old lady) without a look or a word.
        I also did an exprerience that tells all. If I go thru San Sebastian (rich and gorgeous city on the Norte) with my backpack I am transparent at the best or look down with a strange look . If I go with the same backpack and my SAINT JAMES SHELL around my neck people smile at me, talk to me, I am a pilgrim not a poor vagabond.
        Sister Simon Clare said it perfectly. I will add that for me me the Camino IS NOT A BUBBLE it is THE REAL LIFE , our society of apparences is a bubble that we have to escape often to be a TRUE PERSON.

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        • Marie, it sounds very beautiful where you live. It must be wonderful to be able to just go, and walk a part of the Camino with it being so near you.I have to say I smiled when you described your experiment;being treated like a vagrant if you are just walking anonymously, but then given such respect if the same people see your pilgrim shell! I am quite sure that no matter how others see you, God knows you to be a wonderful being of Light and Love. Blessings to you!

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    • Kat, See my comment to Sister a few minutes ago to get more insight into my definition of camaraderie on the Camino and why I see no conflict in feeling camaraderie while walking mostly alone. Another little aspect for me personally, is that my hearing is poor, so for me to walk and talk with someone else, particularly if they have an accent, adds a lot of work and concentration to my day which I do not want. Steve

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  8. Marie – wow. Yes, you’re right. And thank you for posting this because it raises a whole lot of issues.

    You are absolutely spot on in saying there’s enormous compassion and respect amongst pilgrims on the Camino – the various Caminos, And enormous generosity too, as well as kindness.

    And it’s true too what you say about the backpack, with shell and without shell. I would add that it’s also a function of awareness – awareness of the significance of the shell.

    For instance, here in Mudgee, a beautiful wine growing town NW of Sydney, I trained with my backpack with the shell prominently attached, and it meant nothing to the locals. They didn’t have a clue what a scallop shell hanging off my pack meant. They still looked at me as if I was a homelsss vagabond, as you so beautifully put it. They looked at me with suspicion, and some openly laughed at me.

    Then when I was at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, in transit to board a flight to Biarritz, I had people coming up to me reverentially, almost in awe, asking me about the Camino. It was because they understood what the shell, the “badge,” meant. It has a very powerful effect on people who know and understand its meaning.

    The Camino is a bubble though – and I’m going to do a separate post on this soon. For that period of your life while you’re walking, you don’t have to worry about bills, taxes, annoying neighbors, your boss or your staff, the traffic driving home or the crowded subway – you usually have no idea what’s really happening in the outside world because you’re not watching the news or reading the papers – in other words, it’s not the hurly burly of your everyday world.

    Everything is simple. Everything is reduced down to: You wake up. You walk. You eat. You drink. You sleep. Then you wake up and you walk some more.

    There are some people like to keep going back to the Camino because it gets them out of the hurly burly. It is a cocoon. it shelters them from the difficulties of life.

    I would like to live a perpetual life of a pilgrim. And that’s now what I’m working towards. Instead of going to the Camino, have the Camino come to me. Have the spirit of the Camino with me each day, not only in how I behave, but how I perceive others behave around me.

    Now wouldn’t that be cool…

    Bill

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  9. Oh WOW…this is the best post.

    I have struggled so much to tell people why I went the first time and am going a second.
    Now I just say…”I am keeping the real reason to myself”. It sounds mysterious….but its because I don’t know.
    I don’t know why I am spending so much money, taking so much time off work, going alone to walk…probably in pain …when I could take a cruise or relax on a tropical beach somewhere.

    I like being alone…I live alone…I do better when Im alone. I have never felt connected to people.
    But I had a special moment on the Camino (somewhere out of Sarria). I could have sworn that I heard footsteps behind me…..I moved to the side and no one passed me. I turned and no one was there. But I could still hear those footsteps…coming towards me, going past me. Just that lovely “crunch crunch”. It was then that I felt it…that spiritual imprint that Sister Simon Claire mentioned. I felt connected, connected to all those people that for over a 1000 years had walked where I was walking, who had doubts, fears, tears, sins, joy, blisters, just like me. And then as I looked up I felt connected to the pilgrim that was up ahead…and the one that was coming into view behind me.
    It was one of the most weirdest moments of my life.

    Heading back in a few weeks…I still have my fears…will my knee hold out, will I be walking with cancer, will I make it to Muxia. But my biggest fear is….”How will I cope with all the people?. This camaraderie that everyone seems to want on their Camino is the one thing I want to avoid” But I sense that this is what the Camino has in stall for me.
    What is making me return?….is a desire to feel that connection …..that imprint….where my soul walked free and I walked with others. I want to feel that again….I want to feel apart of something.

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    • OK, first, Bill, every time I am working on a reply to a post, I come back to find you’ve beaten me to it. I was just working on a reply about these wonderful footsteps, and you did it again!!
      Sorry Abbey, I had to get that out of the way. I was so glad you had shared that story-I have no doubt that with the way you describe your preference for being alone, you are what I think of as one of the special “solitaries”who seem to be especially open to voices from the earth.I imagine you have always had this sensitivity, and kept it to yourself because you didn’t want people to think you were wonky.I would also think you sense an historic presence, a connection to what has happened before at very old buildings, stone formations and ruins.Thank you for sharing that. I really believe it helps others like us to feel comfortable with their PGS .We grow through sharing!

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      • Sister Simon Clare…you hit the nail on the head.
        I walk a different walk to most…..I do feel a connection to the earth….I feel it move and shudder. I can tell when earthquakes are coming..it feels like the earth adjusts and I loose my balance a bit. I am known as a person who has to touch things….to feel whats going on inside. In New Zealand we are very young…only 800 or so years of people being here and our oldest buildings are only just over 100 years old. But when I go to Europe…the streets, the buildings, the hills seem to chatter to me. I fear I could never go to one of the concentration camps in Europe because the pain I would feel would crush me.

        How very wonderful to find someone who gets it….thank you.

        Bill, I think Im just starting to understand the PGS…….everyone has their own PGS….it is set to some point, some destination…..it maybe a person or a place…it maybe even an idea. It may be now…or in the past. Sir Edmond Hilary’s PGS was set to Everest. Colombus was set to cross the ocean……Neil Armstrong ……the moon. And for others……it may float and change to never arrive at a destination.

        Wow………..I think I get it……..

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        • Dear Abbey, Sister’s concept of a solitary is wonderful, and something I’ve not come across before.

          With PGS, it’s within all of us. Some of us have direct and clear access to it, others ignore it, or have it running in the background as they make their own way through life.

          It’s a facility to make our lives easier, and more fulfilled.

          Bill

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        • You are getting it, Abbey!And the wonderful thing for ‘tuned’ people is that even if you’re tuned to the Camino, you can reset your affinity to something else, if you choose to. I always found Europe exhausting exactly for the reason you describe-being so tuned in to everyone else who was there before.Sadly it works for painful and cruel places too.Africa and Asia both gave me weird stress headaches because there were so many ‘past’ layers.

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  10. Morning to you Bill! Through a friend (female from Austria, impressive person) you walked with some hours this spring at O Cebreiro and who was my “mirror” on the Camino Frances autumn 2012 i am aware of your blog. I enjoy style of reflecting on your experiences and recognise much of what the camino apparantly has done with you. I stepped out of “daily life” and materialism, leaving family (wife & kids) and work behind, being used to take care of all the people around me. Wanted to do it for years, and then… did it. Euphoria after deciding to go, big questions and even fear the days before leaving. Why was i doing this?! The real answer i got from Jose Luis, an older hospitalero and former pilgrim running the voluntary albergue in Tosantos (small village after Belorado) who said: “You’ve been walking now aprox ten days and still have 20 to go and i guess you’re full of questions. But, let the camino do her thing. It will not bring you answers to your questions, it will bring you what you need.” How right he was! Every day, every step, every laugh, tear and pain, choosing to walk alone or meet with my friend, it all felt like a huge privilege. It changed my life, it brought me “chispa” they say in Spain. As you wrote, i try to keep the camino close to me back in “this” life (which is quiet a task), but still look forward to the next time. Don’t know when, but it’s no “if”.

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    • Hi Sebastian, in your very moving post, the thing that struck me most powerfully is you said it was a “privilege” to walk the Camino.

      What a glorious thing to say! And how right you are!

      I remember at one point, during a day’s walk, I passed a group of pilgrims who had stopped for a picnic lunch. They were sitting by a stream, the sun was out, the sky was bluer than blue, and I remember calling out to them: How lucky are we?!

      They looked back at me and didn’t say anything. But even with all the exhaustion, the pain, the soreness, the hardships, I really did feel lucky to be walking the Camino.

      So, if for you there’s no “if,” that means there must be a “when!”

      Bill

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  11. Hi Bill. Its 5:45am here,and no, I don’t sleep much. I have a weird disorder that gives me, if I’m lucky, about three hours a night.Sometimes I grab a power nap in the afternoon. But I’m not getting any hours at all tonight/this morning-I have a long term chronic pain illness that has flared up again, so I thought I’d see what you’re up to since sleep is out of the question.And, I think we make pretty good team, too.

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      • Not a chance! Ive lived with this for twenty years, and figure no matter what I’m doing, I’ll be in pain,so I might as well do something that either helps somebody else, or makes me feel good!No sympathy required. Everybody has something, and its ok as long as you never let it be the most important thing about yourself. IMHO

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  12. Bill, I got to think about this one for a while. As you know already, I am hoping to return next year and people always ask me “why”. Why in the first place and now why again. Last year, March, as the Camino choose me, I was overcome with an obsession that almost rivals Richard Dreyfuss’s in the movie Encounter of the 3rd kind. Remember him dragging all the dirt into his living room to build the image in his mind and recreating the mountain. I was consumed about anything Camino, from literature, forums, movies, etc. Luckily, pilgrims who live around my parts found their way to me and took me under their wings and helped me calm down and start my inner journey, right in my backyard under the oak trees. Oaks and I have a very special bond, so imagine my joy of walking by so many of them in Spain. Fast forward to Muxia and I am standing with the stones and am at peace, I had climbed that mountain. 8 months have passed, and I am still on top of that mountain and I see many ways of walking down. Which one to choose. Like you, I brought the Camino back with me into my every day life, and still there is that yearning to return. I believe, I need to explore those many paths down said mountain.. Bill, you are so correct, writing soothes the soul and gives clarity to the mind… see no need to think too much about it anymore… the answer is clearer now. Light and Love Ingrid

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    • Dear Ingrid – it’s funny your reference to Dreyfuss and Close Encounters – the thing about that scene is that Dreyfuss didn’t know why he was building that mountain in his living room. He just had this very strong need to do it.

      Close Encounters is Spielberg’s most metaphysical film, I think.

      This question of why, and why again, is one that’s not easily answered. And perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the only important thing is that you do it.

      Yes, writing does help sort things out. You’re forced to!

      Bill

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  13. Understandable post. After I walked the Camino in Sept/Oct 2011, I remember having the same feeling of wanting to walk the Camino again, even though I was a walking tragedy (blisters, exhaustion, ladies issues, chipped tooth, cold, sun poisoning, boots fell apart…). But I wanted to walk it again, well maybe not Frances route, but the Camino Norte. There’s a simplicity in the pilgrim’s life. I remember when we returned, we did a cleansing of home; we tossed items that of outlived their usefulness and things we just didn’t need any more. I’ve recently learned that there are wonderful walking experiences right here in my backyard (The Appalachian Trail). The feeling of exhaustion, experience of beauty, walking meditations, and accomplishments…I can get glimmers of the Camino feeling.

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    • hi Jasmyne – (catching up on past posts!) – any walk can be a meditative experience, if you make it so.

      I can imagine the trails you talk of in the US can be that – but as you already know, what makes the Camino special of course is that it is an ancient route taken by pilgrims for many many centuries. And the food’s better! (and of course, the wine!)

      Bill

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      • Once that Camino spirit is planted and growing in your soul, though, I think there are other walks and places where it can be revisited and drawn on for that comfort of the mind we first feel on the Camino. It can help to nourish and soothe,and tide you over until your next Camino.

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        • To me, the Camino starts on the Camino, but it continues in your mind and no longer need be tied to a physical location. It becomes a state of mind with instant recall. It can be a life changing event if you allow it to and I think the process continues long after we leave Spain. Steve

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          • Thank you, Steve. That’s just what I wanted to say. I completely understand the reasons pilgrims want to return to the Camino again and again. I expect to feel the same-its like that when you find a place that nourishes and inspires you. But I think we have to honour what the Camino gives to our hearts a little more-just enough to want to return, yes, but also to have a little piece of its wonder that we can carry with us wherever we go. Love, after all, is tied to hearts, not just to places.

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          • Sister and Steve, the Camino for me was an incredible journey. God walked with me every step of the way. I had never before felt so connected and so loved and such a part of life before my feet hit the Camino. That wonderful and blessed feeling continues for me till this very day. And that for me, is why I am returning in September.
            Arlene

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          • Arlene – that’s a most wonderful sentiment.

            Thank you for feeling comfortable enough on this blog to express something so intimate.

            Bill

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          • Arlene, I wish you a most blessed Camino. If I am very lucky, I hope to walk in Sept-Oct 2014,sadly a year after you! If I had the money Id move it up a year, but it looks like I’ll need the extra twelve months in prayer time

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          • Have been following the comments regarding “Why walk the Camino again?” and thought I would add my two cents.

            I walked the Camino with my wife last April and May, 2012. I am 68 and my wife is 64…not that young for so long a walk. During our lifetime we have taken many trips and vacations several of them to Europe. We have seen many of the major capitals of the world and visited many museums and wondrous sights…..NONE have matched the Camino experience. We walked for 49 wonderful days enjoying nature, communing with our inner selves, our walking friends along the way, the residents of all those small villages we passed through, the hospitaleros that took such good care of us. I will never forget the last 100 kilometers. Every step we took, took us closer to the end and we slowed our gait and stopped more often the closer we got to the end. We did not want it to end. Being on the Camino was surely the most peaceful time of our lives. As we approached the end, I remember suddenly realizing, nary a cross word has passed our lips during the entire time we were on the camino…nothing ever bothered us, nothing ever happened that we were impatient or cross about. Even when we were exhausted and hurting from our long walks every single day, our mood was so upbeat, so happy, it was just incredible. Surely, it is the peace that one feels along the way that beckons us to repeat this wondrous experience. Now, one year later, I can tell you all, that not a single day goes by that we do not mention something about the camino and how we want to do it again and thinking about when the best time would be and how we would want to see different things and maybe go a different route. It consumes us.

            Robert and Margarita Velasco, Tucson. Az.

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  14. Bill, I am so glad you brought this topic up! I am a bit late in responding due to being away, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

    Since I started reading forums on the Camino, I have been very curious about all the people who seem to go again and again. Like 7 or 8 times. Why? Are they still seeking? What are they seeking? Are they addicted to escaping real life? Bill called it the Camino Bubble..(For instance, I think it would be wonderful to be a university student forever, just study and discuss, forget about having to make a living!!)
    Or is it just good exercise? Or is there something deeply spiritual that attracts the human spirit?

    I find it interesting that many who walk the Camino mention that they are not “religious…”

    Some thoughts thrown out there…:

    I think humans are inherently religious. In the sense that we, in our most inner self, realize that there is “something more” out there. So we seek to fulfill the spiritual being, (even if we don’t acknowledge there is/we are a spiritual being). Hence the many many religions that require adherence to certain creeds, rules or exercises etc etc.
    We LIKE to do stuff that makes us feel we are doing something that will redeem us. Like obeying rules. Like sacrificing. Like going on a pilgrimage (at least historically I believe a pilgrimage was undertaken to earn Absolution for sins).
    Hoping or imagining that the act of checking off a list, so to speak, will bring with it absolution or redemption. Because it feels very very good to be checking off that list. I think that it could be a reason for repeating the Camino, or going on multiple pilgrimages.

    And maybe it is easier than saying

    “Here I am . I surrender”

    So perhaps the walking of the Camino is a kind of sacrifice (few belongings, leaving behind our “worldly” identities and status, etc) which doesn’t earn us anything, like forgiveness, however we find the true act of sacrifice DOES bring CHANGE. It brings us to a place where we relinquish self, and in doing so we can experience true liberty. With a broken but healed heart we acknowledge that we are loved, and worthy of love, and are here on this earth to love.

    Like Arlene said so beautifully! ” I had never before felt so connected and so loved and such a part of life before my feet hit the Camino.”

    (Arlene, when are you starting your Camino in September? Maybe I will meet you!)

    Anyway, those are some rambling thoughts. Thanks for letting me share.

    Debra

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    • Hi Debra,
      I start on September 17th from Logrono. Sure would be nice to walk and chat with you along the Way.
      Arlene

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