My brother Bob is now settling back into work and a daily routine, after completing the Camino Frances late last year.
We spoke today on the phone, and I asked him how he felt about it all, now with some time and distance away from The Way.
He said that he’d changed, and others close to him had noticed changes too.
I asked him what sort of changes. (We live in different parts of Australia, so I haven’t seen him since he got back.)
He said that for a start, he’d lost a lot of weight while walking – about 10kgs – and most of that has stayed off. He’s now about 7kgs lighter than when he left for Spain.
More than that though, he said he was calmer, more relaxed, things didn’t stress him out like they used to. His family has noticed this too. And so too some of his clients. (He’s a vet.)
And then he said something which a lot of pilgrims confront after returning from the Camino. He said: I hope these changes last.
It made me think.
The changes that were wrought from me during my walk – most of them have stayed.
- I still don’t wear glasses
- I no longer horde plastic bags
- I don’t use heavy cameras anymore
- I give greater thought to the morality of my eating
- I worry less
- I laugh more
- I too am more relaxed
- I have maintained my mantra: What’s the worst that can happen?
- I still wear the $20 Casio watch I wore on the Camino
- Others say I’m a kinder gentler more compassionate person
- I tell them they’re morons
- I trust more
- I’ve learned to surrender
- I’m on a new path
There’s no doubt I’m a different person to the one that left Mudgee so fearfully in early May 2013, heading off to the Camino.
When I thought about my brother’s question – would his changes last – I began to realise that the changes will not only last, they will strengthen, if he does just one thing:
If he keeps the Camino in his heart.
You keep the Camino in your heart by thinking about it. Remembering it. Going back over your photos. Reading books about it. Watching movies or documentaries or talking to others about the Camino. Flipping through your passports, looking at all your stamps.
By walking another Camino.
But you need never walk another step towards Santiago, if you just keep the spirit of the Camino in your heart.
And then your changes will last.