A dear friend, Libby, read my book and sent me an email yesterday, which I’ve now posted below.
The version of the manuscript I sent her though had a first draft epilogue. I changed it in subsequent drafts, and when I read her email I sent her the new epilogue – so I post that too, and her reaction to it.
Libby is not a NY Times critic, or someone unknown to me who’s bought the book from Amazon then sits down to critique it – she is, if you like, friendly fire.
But she’s exactly the demographic for this book – and whilst she’s a mate and a sweet sweet lady, she’s also a hard-headed businesswoman who’s intensely smart doesn’t mince words when she needs to. That’s why I value her comments here.
I am still waiting on the formatting guy – and I’m also still waiting on the cover art from my poster company. Both have been promising delivery for a while now. I’m hoping I’ll get it all by the weekend, and I can begin to get the completed book out onto the e-publishing sites next week.
As soon as it’s all done I will send a copy free to those of you who want one. Let me know if there’s any urgency and I’ll send a pdf – which will be the same text, just not in full book form with the snazzy formatting etc.
Anyway, so here’s what Libby had to say – then my redrafted epilogue – then her response.
I absolutely loved it. I’m being totally honest when I say I didn’t want it to end – probably much the same as you felt at the end of your walk. I was disappointed right along with you when you walked into Santiago. The last few days seemed to go so fast!
I did miss hearing a few more of your musings once the journey was over, probably because of all I’ve read on the blog, I remember one post in particular where you pinpointed the “meaning of life” down to being about love.
To walk the Camino is to do a pilgrimage.
That’s what I did – I became a pilgrim.
I followed in the footsteps of millions of other pilgrims who, over the years, the decades, the centuries, have made their way to Santiago.
What did I learn?
I learnt to be grateful. Grateful for simple things.
For a bed at night. For clean clothes in the morning. I was grateful when it didn’t rain. I was grateful when the pain receded.
I learnt the meaning of gratitude.
I learnt humility.
My pain humbled me.
Other people humbled me too –
People who walked much further than me. People with pain much greater than mine.
Ultimately though, I was humbled by the occasion. By just walking the Camino.
That in itself was humbling.
THE POWER OF INCREMENTS
I learnt I could achieve big goals by taking small steps.
A lot of small steps.
But only if I didn’t give up until I’d reached my goal.
MY POSSESSIONS ARE MY BURDEN:
I carried everything I needed on my back. Up and down mountains, across plains, over rivers.
My possessions were my burden. Anything unnecessary was an unnecessary burden.
It’s the same in life. My possessions are my burden.
There were so many times I judged people.
People I thought old and frail. People I thought not as capable as me.
Actually I mis-judged them. I was wrong.
I learnt that I must never judge, and never underestimate others.
MIRACLES ARE POSSIBLE:
I discovered I was able to overcome obstacles I didn’t think possible.
And I saw miracles.
My pain left me on the Meseta. My eyesight improved. But perhaps the greatest miracle of all is that I changed.
I BRING FORTH WHAT I FEAR THE MOST:
I learnt that what I fear the most, I bring into my life.
I was scared of steep climbs. Scared I wouldn’t make it. And because of my fear, I nearly didn’t.
I was scared my knee would thwart me.
It nearly did.
What I fear, I attract.
THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN ISN’T SO BAD:
I discovered a magic mantra: What’s the worst that can happen?
Say that, and my fear disappears.
Because the worst that can happen invariably isn’t so bad after all.
I can deal with it.
So why should I live in fear?
I CAN TRUST MY PGS:
I learnt I could trust my PGS – my Personal Guidance System – my intuition.
It shepherded me dextrously along the Camino.
The times I ignored it were the times I had difficulties.
The times I trusted it were the times I experienced something wonderful or profound.
EVERY DAY IS A PILGRIMAGE:
I learnt that I don’t need to walk the Camino to be a pilgrim.
I can be a pilgrim every day of my life…
If I see my life as a pilgrimage.
WHAT DID I ULTIMATELY LEARN?
That the only thing that matters – that truly matters – is love.
And here is what Libby said in response –