Guest post – Brendan: How the Camino Changed me…

Brendan, whose user name is SimplyB, sent this to me by private message on the Forum. I thought it was so well articulated that I asked if I could post it as a guest blog here, for you all to discuss. He gave me his permission.

I was delighted, because as you’ll see, Brendan approaches the question: How did the Camino change you? with a fearsome intellect. There’s plenty to discuss!


You asked what the Camino did to transform us, and in what way if any.

I have read the other posts and see a lot of similarities and am therefore loathe to chime in with a “me, too”. There is no question that some degree of universality of experience is to be expected though unpredictable in any particular case.

While I in no way presume the following is unique to me, it is a simple laundry list of what has changed.

Full disclosure up front. A portrait just a year back would have had me as an extreme “Type A”, absolutely confident in what I was doing at all times and a complete and utter jerk. In fact, I have to believe that this is often what clients wished from me – a relentless pursuit of achieving objectives and, if some feelings got hurt… too bad.

On the good side, I never exploited people and gave up any engagement that would have required unethical behavior. A social being, not so much. “I would never belong to any club that would have me as a member.” (Thanks, Groucho!)

Faith was something very cerebral but very firmly held – – Mathematics exist so therefore also does God. (The proof is beyond scope of this note!) In self-discovery mode post-Camino, my Myers-Briggs record (pulled from past training records) would have me as an INTJ. (You can check out what that means here:

So, what’s changed?

Mr. Type A is dead. Not quite sure what is going to replace him as that seems to be under construction even at this late date.

“J” (in INTJ types) is for “judging”. That particular trait died of neglect. I believe the demise started around Castrillo de los Polvazares, for no particular reason except that I am a slow learner. There was no formal obituary or even reading of words but maybe the death rattle happened past SdC at Olveiroa.

So, as one can surmise there is a big gap in operating attitudes between past and present. Adjustments are still being made.

Yes, I care about deadlines but work like the dickens to soft-sell an objective. More carrot, less stick. (For the dog-lover “Wag more, bark less.”) This transition is a bit difficult and has caused some alienation.

In family to a minor extent, more pronounced in external relations where I perceive that my utility may have been adjudged as “diminished”. (I might agree.)

While never very materialistic, it appears hard for me to even budge the needle on that dial any more. The Camino-induced simplicity is too great a lesson to ignore. This also has introduced tension into relationships.

Though I will not actively sever old relationships, neither can I adopt the “goods-based” worldview to measure success. I do not preach this. It is not a pre-condition for people to agree with my decision in order to be my friend. But it is a change in my attitude that has been detected and found to be wanting.

(BTW, there is precious little glamour in “living poor”. It takes time, a lot of it. It requires flexibility and resourcefulness to be developed to a high degree. And it requires not having things that maybe you, or family, might like to have. I am not recommending it as a desirable pursuit. Like the Camino, the call has to find you… or so I believe.)

I’m still not very social (“I” is for Introverted) but am more at ease when there is no recourse but to engage. I appreciate people more even if I find their behavior loathsome. (Please note that I brightly demarcate between a person and their behavior.)

Even so, I now never miss an opportunity to shut up unless called upon to defend what I know and can prove to be true. And whenever an opinion must be proffered, the triple dictum of Aristotle serves as an effective filter for whatever response is to be made. “Is it true? Is it useful? Is it beautiful?” Talk about dampening one’s output of words!

About Faith…. It now extends well beyond the cerebrum or all of the foregoing would have proved impossible to absorb.

I’ll apologize in advance to anyone who has yet to walk the Camino and finds this report off-putting. I am asked “Should I walk the Camino?” My constant response is this: “Advising anyone to walk the Camino is way above my pay grade. However, if you are feeling called then you should prayerfully consider whether that call can be ignored.”

That about sums it up for me, Bill.



24 thoughts on “Guest post – Brendan: How the Camino Changed me…

  1. WOW, Brendan, that is a wonderful post, with many parts to ponder; lots (in my humble opinion) of understated feelings, opinions and lessons and many chuckly (if there’s such a word to replace LOL, when it’s not expressed loudly?!) parts. Will love to see what everyone’s take(s) will be on it all. 🙂


  2. As another “INTJ ” on the Camino now. I say Bravo!!!!!! Brendon. I really enjoyed reading that.

    The first thing that I noticed that has changed is my “win (walk) at all cost” or ” until you drop” mentality. There is no one waiting around the corner with a brass band or fireworks if you crash and burn. It is a dark and lonely place.

    Im still working on the judgemental side….but im more aware of it.

    Once again Bravo!


    • Thanks, Abbey!

      Yep, if you learn to walk as the mood moves you there, it is a lot easier to keep one’s gait upon your return. The judgment thing will go away when you find out how much it adds to your pack weight. (I do miss it sometimes though.)



  3. I second Britta’s wow. I am so impressed with people who are so incredibly articulate. You said a lot. Brenden, i actually was sad when your post ended. I saw so much of myself in your beautiful words. I don’t think those changes happened so much on my Camino, but they have definitely happened in my recent life. Bill thought he saw a lot of change in me on the Camino as he read my blogs, and maybe so. At any rate i have changed. I loved the reference to a “goods based” society. I am reminded of my own post of “Living Within Our Needs”. That is part of why I spend most of my time in a small town with my dog, rather in the race track called Houston. Thank you Brenden for such a beautiful and revealing post and thank you Britta for sharing it.


  4. PSS: Upon rereading, you weren’t materialistic, Brendan and I was, owning anything I could imagine. Now my toys are limited to one recently acquired Harley. Soul food for me. While i was not in a client based business, i was driven to succeed. I think God gave me unfathomable success just to see what i would do. He was disappointed, so with His help, I gave most of it back. I missed an opportunity to make a difference. Again, thank you Brendan and Bill for giving us this most stimulating and thought provoking post.


    • Dear Steve,
      No worries about the name misspelling. There are very few who get it right on a continual basis!
      One clarification for you. A lot happened to me on the Camino but these were paving for a whole lot of changes going on since. I now think of it as analogous to a home remodel project. It is the demolition phase before one can lay down the new floor, replace fixtures and what-not.
      The topics of wealth and materialism are broad and deep – open to lots of misunderstanding without a very careful parsing of thoughts. If you are interested, I can maybe PM you my take when I get a bit of time. In a nutshell though, I sense that you think you “blew it”.
      My personal opinion is that, just perhaps, all those “things” were getting in the way of you discovering the ‘authentic Steve’. Your loss may have actually been the source of your evident new freedom which few of your readers could have missed. The arc of your blog brought to mind St. Irenaeus (and I am probably mis-quoting but its close): “The Glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.”
      Your Harley is like my fly rod and waders – they are a source of joy for their merging us with Nature and our fellows plus the bonus of contemplation time on our own. Just like toys when we were small.


      • You’re so right, Brendan. We come to know God through the things which bring us joy. Thank for such an inspiring and honest post.Wonderful words!!!


      • Brendan,
        I am always interested in another’s take on the topic of materialism. I don’t disagree with you one bit in things getting in the way of authenticity. But they don’t have to. With some they do and with others they assist rather than detract. My life has been what it has been, and who am I to judge whether it was right or not. It was what it was and the future, God willing, will be what it will be. One thing for sure, I doubt it will be what I might anticipate, thus, I really do try to move forward without expectation. You can always reach me at You will find I am very open. Where are you located?


      • Steve –

        No disagreement here that abundant material goods necessarily preclude a happy, authentic life!

        Speaking only from my own personal experience though it just seems that the odds run high that way. Life has brought me into contact with a multitude of high-net-worth individuals. The happy among them have been few. The common denominator to each of the happy, near as I could discern, was a view that money was their tool – – not their measure.

        Wealth is a complicated topic. The honest means of obtaining it makes demands on us. Keeping it asks yet more. Then, at end of our days, did it ever really matter?

        I can tell you are a very open person, Steve. Sent you a test msg from my e-mail account just to make sure it got through. Location? I’m pretty sure it is the same small town you live in – – though it is located at the head of the Yakima Valley in Washington state.

        Gotta run for now,



  5. Wow, what an inspiring post! Materialism is over rated! In my past, I have been materialistic. I was one of those sad birds who equated my self-worth with how well I did financially. After losing much of my hearing — which necessitated a forced early retirement — my income dropped 75%. I was forced to reevaluate the importance of money. I can honestly say that I have never been happier with life.

    I love your comment about “the big gap in operating attitude.” Brought a huge smile to my face. Your post is so articulate, and gives me so much to contemplate.

    I cannot wait to finish physical therapy so I can renew my physical commitment to my Camino. Mentally, and spiritually, I have been ready for a long time. Emotionally I was ready to continue my Camino even after my injury. I am going to be gut honest here: after reading so many posts from Bill, Steve, Arlene, Brendan and others, I worry that myself and others who have not yet completed our Caminos will experience performance anxiety when we do finally commence our walk. This past Spring, when I started the Camino never once did I think about any personality change that might occur. After reading the posts here, however, I find myself contemplating what positive changes I might expect post-Camino. I’m getting psyched about positive changes which may, or may not, happen. Thinking such thoughts seems counter-intuitive. Not to mention, totally opposed to my PGS development! Am I setting myself up?


    • Hi Julie,

      That’s actually a really interesting question and dilemma –

      Personally I would approach it this way: that it’s just a walk.

      And keep yourself open to the divine.

      Each day walk with an open heart, and don’t expect anything. And anything that comes will be a gift.

      That’s how I would approach it, if doing it again.

      Hope that helps.



      • I am reminded of the words to an old country song:

        “How many times have you heard someone say,
        if I had his money I could do things my way.

        Little do they know it is so hard to find,
        one rich man in twenty with a satisfied mind”.


    • Hey Julie,

      Just take it as it comes without anxiety or expectation. If you have learned anything from this blog it is that you can’t do it wrong. Just take one day at a time. That is all you have anyway. Then if you wake up tomorrow, you have another one. I still don’t think it changed me, but my good Mate, Bill, does. If so, and that is better, so much the better. But, I have been changing for the last couple of years. Letting go. Living without expectation. Being separated from Jill has changed me enormously. Painful, but beneficial to me. Life is a continum of challenges that we need to approach one day at a time and without expectation or anxiety, to repeat myself.

      I am still looking forward to our Harley ride to Alaska. That sounds cool.



      • Thanks for your insight, Steve. Ah, separation, the great game changer! I can very candidly say that I am a totally different person than the woman who was divorced from her husband of 18 years. I still haven’t figured out why incredible personal growth comes from such deeply intense pain. But I am glad it did! Easy for me to say now. We’ve been divorced for almost 20 years. Despite the pain and the passing of years, we are still very good friends! My ex-huband’s second wife is one of my bestest female friends. I gained a lot from that divorce! I will let you know if Will and I decide to make the trek to Alaska on the soft tail! Hugs! Julie


    • Dear Julie,

      Thank you for your kind words – I am extremely grateful that you and others find something worthwhile in what I write even when I am way out of my depth. (Deep down, I’m shallow!)

      Having anxiety is a complete waste of your time and energy. (I wasted a few days of mine to anger and doubt. I’m not going to explain the how or why of that beyond the fact that I had NO idea why I was there beyond a seeming series of accidents.) As I think you have already got some of the “Zen of the camino” in hand, you will acclimate quickly.

      Bill and Steve have provided the essential “keys” to your dilemma. It is “just a walk”. Have no expectations. Keep an open heart.

      I would add these. Change is going to happen. You are not given a timeline as to when it will occur. And, if “perfection” is not granted you “on schedule”, try to remember some words of the great Leonard Cohen:

      “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

      Buen Camino,



  6. Brendan,


    Wow, you blew me out of the water!

    This was a great Guest Blog, thank you.



    • Dear Arlene,

      Thank you very much, I am honored by your appreciation. But it would not have been a guest blog without Bill’s nudging. To anyone else, I would likely have said no but this circle seems a safe place to share. (Unless your name is Bill, of course – – who knows what can happen then?) ; )

      Have a great Camino, you are going to enjoy this season’s scenery.



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