PC#33 – Before & After

I’ve given some thought at to whether I should post this – because I don’t want this blog to be about me – there are many more important things to discuss!

However in the previous post there was some discussion about the photo Jennifer took of me at the airport, and how tense and uptight I looked.

So I went back and found a shot of myself on the day I left St. Jean Pied de Port. Then I found a couple of shots taken of me shortly after arriving in Santiago. And I thought it might be interesting to post “before” and “after” shots, to see if there were any physical indications of a transformation.

I think there are.

For a start, and I mentioned this in a response to a comment made yesterdayΒ by Sister Clare, even though it was an overcast day in St. Jean the morning I left, I was wearing sunglasses. Yet when I arrived in Santiago, on a bright sunny day, I wasn’t.

That’s just an obvious difference. There are others too.

So again, please understand I don’t post these shots out of vanity, but to begin a discussion about the transformative powers of walking the Camino.

By the way – Jennifer says my life can now be divided into a Before-the-Camino Bill and an After-the-Camino Bill. She sees the changes as being that dramatic.

Bill leaving SJPP WS bill SJPPBill arrivingwpid-Photo-13052013-411-AM.jpg

55 thoughts on “PC#33 – Before & After

  1. That’s how I looked, single staff changed to trekking poles! And an anxious look without a smile to a big relaxed, pleased, smile! And of course, sunglasses then no sunglasses along with probably many other changes that cannot be seen in the photos.

    Pre-Camino I was uptight and looking for a place to call home; post-Camino I realize where I am is my home. My entire outlook on life has changed; the glass is no longer half empty; there no longer is any room for negativism in my life. I have eliminated to the best of my ability all negative aspects (including negative people) from my life.

    Yes Bill, the Camino was for me a very life changing experience. I loved every minute of it even the tough moments. As I said before, I’m returning this September to walk once again the Camino Frances to capture better pictures and memories and to see if I missed any special sight, somewhat like reading a book over again or watching a movie for the second time. And then next year, I plan to trek the Camino del Norte.



    • That’s fantastic Arlene that you’re going back, and thinking of another one after that.

      And the changes that you experienced.

      Really, it is an incredible elixir, this walk.



  2. Well, here the before photos with glasses are sharper so my comment about the camera doesn’t lie, implying you were less focused is questionable.. Especially since the final photo here is the fuzzy one. HOWEVER: maybe the fuzziness is a softness you felt with your lovely wife by your side and then a softness again when you’ve acomplished your journey and will see her again soon. πŸ™‚ So again, the camera doesn’t lie.


  3. Bill, I think the bottom line of it is, in the first picture you are completely closed, “Don’t talk to me” Very much wrapped up in yourself. The glasses create a barrier more than anything else-I can see you, but you can’t see me, and the straight line of your mouth is locked shut.
    The Santiago picture is “Hi, I’m Bill,who are you?” Full of light and healing and life.Where you are grey in St Jean, you are sunshine, here, as if you have just discovered joy and been pleasantly surprised. You’ve gone from being dead, world weary and grey, to newborn and full of delight.


    • Dear Sister,

      In my defence, πŸ˜€ in St. Jean remember I was jetlagged, having just flown in from Australia the day before. And I’d been awake since 2am.

      But even so, yes I was closed tight. It was like I was a warrior going into battle, about to face the Pyrenees. Armoured up.

      In Santiago, yes, there was light. I’d opened up. The armour had been discarded. I was happy to be vulnerable.



  4. Bill, Other than the gafas de sol on or off, which I have no input on, it appears to me that you might have dropped some weight. Your face looks leaner to me. I think I came back about the same size that I went. Many of my early pictures had me in sunglasses, that is on the days there was some sun. I quit wearing them at all because they interfered with my vision of photos I had taken and wanted to review. Never put them back on. Nothing more or less than that. Steve


    • Actually, after Sister Clare’s post, I went out and made a fresh appointment!!


      Just kidding Sister!

      But to answer two in one – I probably did lose a bit of weight, but not as much as some people. And when I went down into Portugal, I made it my goal to find the choicest chicken joint in Northern Portugal. (which I did by the way, in Barcelos.) And then there were those yummy Portuguese tarts. So I returned to my regular weight again pretty fast.

      With sunglasses – I hardly wear them at all now. And as you know from previous posts, I’m not wearing prescription glasses anymore at all.

      These have been some of the outward changes which have stuck. Keeping my phone on Silent is another. Since coming back from the Camino, I just can’t handle the sound of a phone.

      Very strange.



      • I don’t mind the phone now, but on the Camino, you had three phone calls a day and I had no phone for 46 days. Having said that, I mainly use my phone for quick check of email, and very seldom do I receive or place a phone call. I hardly ever wear sun glasses either. My eyes are dark sensitive whereas most others are light sensitive. I am likely to unconsciously take them off, lay them down, and never see them again. Steve


  5. Bill, I see it in your shoulders. At the beginning, your shoulders are up. The photographs of you at the end of your walk show a different posture… Your shoulders are down. You are relaxed. Relaxed, you smile.


  6. There is a light that shines through our eyes, post Camino. I shines for all, some more intense than others. I saw that even it people that were mourning great losses. I remember the second day in Santiago when I took the rooftop tour. There is a beautiful room just to the right as you walk out of the south gate entrance to the Cathedral. It was open and I walked in, immediately being aware that I had walked into a group gathering and prayers. It was a Japanese group of pilgrims. Now I have no idea if they actually walked a distance, but they were there to honour the memories of their loved ones that had lost their lives during the Tsunami. In all their grief, there was a light in their eyes, of acceptance, a final good bye. I believe, that light is a gift to us all and can’t be hidden away.

    Tonight, the one thing that everyone commented on, post presentation, was that light. I cherish those comments the most.

    Light and love, Ingrid


    • Ingrid, you’re right.

      And that’s a wonderful anecdote about the Japanese pilgrims, and that light shining through their grief.

      When Jennifer flew in to meet me, and she met some pilgrims, she would comment to me that they had the “Camino glow.”

      Hey, how did your presentation go? You might be tired now, but can you let us know tomorrow?



      • It went beautiful. Now, I expect women to shed a few tears, but I must have touched some macho hearts as well, I saw some men wiping away. I am glad I spoke from the heart and bared my soul. A scary thing to do. Camino magic all over again. πŸ™‚


        • Hi Ingrid –

          here’s a thought – do you have the transcript of your presentation?

          Because if so, would you be interested in posting it, or a cut down version of it, on this blog as a guest post?

          I’m sure we’d all love to read it.



  7. Thankyou Bill. This post challenges us to really look through a person’s eyes, to see the innermost feelings of their heart. When eyes are hidden behind dark glasses, we are robbed of the opportunity to really see them.
    In Matthew 6, verse 22 – 23 β€œThe eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
    BTW, this is also the foundation for the proverb “The eyes are the window to the soul”.

    Bill, your eyes have been opened. Your body is full of light. You are shining this light as a beacon of hope for others.


    • Dear Anne,

      That’s a beautiful excerpt. And beautiful sentiments you’ve expressed too, thank you.

      Jennifer will respond to your other post tomorrow – again different rhythms 😳

      She doesn’t find responding to posts easy – ironically she is perhaps the must astute and knowledgable editor I’ve ever worked with, and yet she finds it very difficult to express herself in words via a computer.

      Man o man she talks though!



  8. Hi Bill, what a nice invitation. I have to mull this over a bit. This is were I am right now about this.

    I approached my presentation with great trepidation. Had I just wanted to do the usual travel report of day 1 and 2 and pictures that pretty quickly seem to be a blur, I would have done a long time ago or not have bothered.

    As you may recall, I mentioned I too had started a blog and shut it down within days after starting to walk. It would have been so raw and personal and possibly mis- understood. It has taken me some time to even listen to my voice recordings.

    My presentation last night was raw and personal, softened and brightened with beautiful and humorous pictures, not in sequence, but more giving a flavor of my overall experience, to offer something to everyone in the room. I knew not everyone would “get” me, but I hoped to capture their attention either way.

    A good indication I did that was the fact that nobody walked out! πŸ˜‰

    I am a storyteller, and I paint pictures with my words, my voice, my body language and the audience seems to live my stories along side me as I talk. Something I have been told before, but truly was evident last night by the comments I got.

    The written word is powerful, it is permanent and a harsh reality when you blunder. I am always in awe of authors that bare their heart and soul in their books. What courage that takes.

    It takes courage to speak, yes, but it is much easier to keep stringing one word to the next and move forward and leave the rest behind. When I speak, I am engaged with the people I talk to, I can see how they react. I love to see how they respond, I feed of that and in turn I give more of myself trusting I see and feel what they need. And if I stumble or blunder, there is a way to immediately stand tall again and sooth.

    Words spoken are powerful too, but only when the listener truly pays attention. In general, people are enthralled, annoyed, entertained, have some ‘Aha” moments, and only a few, are permanently touched. Spoken words are easily forgotten, but not the written word.

    So to answer your very heartfelt invitation, I don’t think I am ready to share as yet.
    I wish I could see you all, now that would be an experience, especially for me.

    Light and Love, Ingrid


  9. Bill I still am intrigued you are able to continue this blog so successfully. I so appreciate your wife has taken the time to add in her perspectives as well. I have gone from planning to go it alone as others have prescribed, to wanting to share the experience with my own wife. in our case I can get the entire time off but she can’t so maybe a bit of the best of both. I have respondered to you only once before & I will reiterate my belief that even if you don’t know it or refuse to accept it. but I think this is your calling from a higher power. You encourage the true nature of of this blessing called the way.


    • Hi Keith,

      it was only two days ago that my wife reluctantly, with teeth gnashing, agreed to do a post for me, and only yesterday did she reply to some comments that were posted.

      She finds putting her thoughts into words via a keyboard very trying, and so I doubt that from this point on, she will become a regular here. Only when I get down on bended knee, or if someone directly asks her something, will she get involved again.

      So, it’s been my baby from the get-go, and that’s really been from April.

      In that time this blog has received in excess of 56,000 page views, and each day now regularly gets in excess of 500. Yesterday was nearly 700.

      The majority are from North America – the US and Canada – although the blog is now attracting people from all over the world – Slovakia, Austria, Poland. You name it.

      Like you, I’m amazed.

      It was never intended to be like this. It was only ever intended to be something for close friends and family, and only while I walked. I was going to shut it down after I finished the walk.

      But now here we are.


      I kept asking before the Camino, and during the pilgrimage itself: Why? Why did I have such a strong calling to walk the Camino? Because it made no sense. I’m not Catholic and I don’t adhere to a conventional religion, other than perhaps Buddhism. So why was I called so emphatically?

      And the answer came back, after I’d arrived in Santiago, that it was to write this blog. While I’d been walking, I developed a following each day in excess of 2,000 people. And the blog had originally only been intended for 25.

      And then I came back home and had a very strange dream involving me shooting out a huge stained glass window in the Santiago Cathedral.

      I woke from that dream very upset, and looked at the time – it was 3:33. That to me was the turning point.

      I decided then that not only did I have to continue the blog, but I had to write a book as well. I’ll be finished the book this weekend. About 75,000 words. I will spend about 4 wks doing revisions and polishes, and will then publish it.

      It’s to be called THE CAMINO – THE INTUITIVE WAY.

      Has it been a higher power that’s compelled me to do all this? I have no idea, other than its been an inextricable need that I haven’t been able to understand.

      I believe the integrity of this blog has been what’s attracted some remarkable people to become regulars here, and for that I’m hugely grateful.

      They make every day a revelation for me.



  10. Bill, Thanks to Anne’s reminder, Happy Belated Birthday. When you mentioned it a while back, I put it in my calendar, but still overlooked it. I guess you are now one of old people by your definition. Just hold up the best you can. Steve


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