Will the changes last?

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
  • haha
  • 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.

bob on Camino.closer

21 thoughts on “Will the changes last?

  1. I will last. I believe the Camino changes ones DNA.. somehow.. I have stopped questioning a long time ago. I wear this little silver shell pin all the time. People ask me what that is and my answer is always the same. It’s my daily reminder of the Camino and a instant connection to my pilgrim soul. It gives me peace and whenever I find myself in a situation that is unsettleing, I just touch it and all is balanced again.

    Well and of course, it doesn’t hurt walking a Camino again, and again… Bliss.

    So looking forward to this Summer.

    Light and Love, as always, Ingrid


    • Dear Ingrid – that’s so lovely that you have that pin. I know what you mean. I have the scallop shell ring, which serves the same purpose. Interesting you talk about changing your DNA – I’m reading a book at the moment that talks specifically about that, about how your DNA can fundamentally change, if you change your thinking. I believe it absolutely. You’re going to have a magnificent summer… Bill

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  2. Hi Bill –
    Reading this post makes me think of the wonderful words of Italo Calvino (1923-1985), the Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels:
    “Arriving at each new city, the traveller finds again a past of his that he did now know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
    One of the many, many gifts the Camino has given me is I now look at travel in a completely different light – I’m changed. I am no longer the same traveller as I was in my life prior to my camino. You have written much about this – and you are continually finding this everywhere you travel. I hope that your brother and your nephew will find that this is so for them too.

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  3. That’s a lovely quote from Calvino Jenny, thank you. And yes, it’s funny how the camino changes your travel habits. One thing I forgot to put on that list is that I can now travel with a bag that weighs only 15kgs – whereas I used to have a suitcase that came in at 24-26kgs minimum. You’re going to be out on the road again very soon too – aren’t you. Won’t that be fun!


    • Cheers Bill ! The massive drop in your luggage weight would make a huge difference. Quite liberating!
      For my bike camino this year it’s all about factoring in the weight of panniers and bike accessories – just the essentials clothing-wise. It’s exciting planning it all – it’s going to be a very different camino but one I’m very much looking forward to.

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      • It will be a whole different experience on a bike. That’s how Nellie, my daughter did it years ago. With her Spanish boyfriend. I think it’s just as hard, but in different ways. I remember talking to a cyclist from Germany as we were going up the Alto de Perdon – we were both walking, and he was leading his bike. I thought how difficult that must be, with the weight of all his stuff on it. Anyway, you should have fun!! Bill

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      • Jenny! A Bike Camino for real! How exciting! Spain? Portugal? What did I miss? When? Spill! (not on the bike, just explain please) 😉 Hugs Ingrid

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  4. Congrats, bill, on all your successes so far – i know there are many more in your future.
    The camino has been like the shore of an ocean, in a sense, for me. After i finished my first, in 2013, it was very “in your face,” inescapable, always up front, the first thing i thought about in the morning, the last thing at night.
    Then, over time, it faded into the background of life. Triumphs, tragedies, all overshadowed those weeks in sunny, muddy spain. I kept it to myself, rather than tell the world.
    But something has changed. I find myself watching over and over the video i created of my trip. I talk about it to strangers, i think about it at night, remembering the gentle snoring of strangers as i fall asleep (i know it wasn’t gentle at the time, lol).
    The camino is persistent and, once more, inescapable.
    I’m on my way again this spring. Hello, CF!

    Pardon the punctuation mistakes. I’m on my iPad and flipping key board drives me crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • hi Kathy – it is like malaria, really. A tiny bite puts something in your blood stream that changes your whole personality – and then it fades, as you say, and then it comes raging back. Good for you doing it again! If it weren’t for work commitments I’d be back there again now too!


  5. 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.

    Bill … Bob … I think that’s exactly right for many pilgrims ; but it’s not true for all of us — and particularly not for those at risk of getting stuck in the “honey trap” of “the Camino experience“.

    For many pilgrims, the change that overcomes them on the Camino can be far more stark — so stark in fact that even their Camino itself needs to be moved away from, notwithstanding and at the same time because of its life-changing nature.

    You mention going over your photos — for three of my pilgrimages I had none to start with ; I lost more than half from another ; and I’ve lost 99% of the ones from my latest. This is deeply symbolic of the detachment that I, personally, as a Pilgrim, must feel towards evry Camino that I have done, or that I will do — but then again, at the same time my Godfather has just given me a new camera, as a combined Christmas/birthday present, so that it’s clear just from this gift alone that I’m heading back into the Francès, and possibly this time with photos at the end to show for it — oh but then next time will be essentially the actual walk back, not just symbolically but physically. (hmmmmmm ….. )

    OK — I’m an unusual repeat pilgrim, in that each pilgrimage to date, as well as the new one I’m contemplating, is quite radically different to each other — but yet strangely, despite these repeats, every time I’ve been on pilgrimage has required radically moving on from there, and not getting my mind, my spirit, my emotions, my body, my soul to be dragged into and stuck in the Camino forever.

    And the Camino is a long walk home — not a magic quest into a Way of Fantasy.

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    • hi julian – nice to see you back here!

      From my understanding the Camino changed you fundamentally. And in a more dramatic way than most pilgrims.

      There are people who haunt forums etc (and who write blogs…:) ) that take shelter in the notion of the Camino. You see it in other “hobbies” too – they take a territorial ownership, and they become so-called experts. And they resent others treading into their territory of expert knowledge or experience. They become very defensive or aggressive.

      I see this in photography all the time.

      And then there are those that quietly go about just doing it.

      My brother (I think) didn’t undertake the Camino with the notion that it would change him. I suspect he’s quite surprised at the changes that have resulted. I know I didn’t walk the Camino expecting or wanting change. I walked for inexplicable reasons, which are only just becoming apparent now.

      Each person walks for different reasons, I think. I’m planning a big long walk, as soon as my filming commitments will allow – but I keep asking myself: Why? Is it ego? Am I being pure in my intentions?

      Getting to that purity of intention is something that I personally aspire to – where you drop away all ego, ambition, personal aggrandisement, and you walk just for the pure joy of searching and discovery.


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  6. My good friend of 15 years ; my pilgrim staff ; this evening finally split in two 85-90% lengthwise.

    Strangely enough, this event has suddenly transformed the likelihood of my next Camino into an almost certainty.

    I will take a “short” walk to Santiago ; then walk back from there to France.

    … and so I will also start off bare-handed. Which will be strange, and new, and beautiful.

    I will need to learn how to become a Pilgrim all over again, almost from scratch.

    Tonight, my Camino begins anew.


      • Haven’t (k)needed my braces since about my third day out of Lourdes, Bill.

        For most of my last Camino, they were just some extra weight in my pack ; and they’ve been sitting quietly in their plastic bag here since my return.


          • Hi Bill –
            Have you investigated having a SynviscOne knee injection? SynviscOne is a gel-like substance that replaces the lost cushioning fluid around our knees. It’s promoted to be a good alternative for people with osteo-arthritis who haven’t responded well to pain medication, for example. Here’s their website:
            http://www.synviscone.com/ .
            This is something I’m investigating at the moment … I’ve got osteo-arthritis in my left knee. As you know I’m doing the bike camino in September and I’m doing physio exercises and cycling to strengthen the leg muscles and so support my knee better, but I still have pain.
            Obviously this is something that you’d need to look into thoroughly to ensure that could be right for you, and I’m doing the same, but it might be worth looking into.
            Cheers – Jenny


          • Hey jenny – the orthopaedic surgeon did mention a shot I should take. He said it would cost about $500 I think. Could it be the one you’re talking about? I would love to jettison my brace. I wear it on each training walk each day, and it keeps me pain free, but it’s such a nuisance, particularly with the black stocking… 🙂

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          • Hi Bill – how sad that you’re finding the Dr Frank N. Furter fishnets a nuisance! You should get to Sydney more often!
            Seriously, about the shot, it could be the one. I’m at my GP’s on Wednesday to get a referral to the orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist who will be the one to administer the synvisc.one shot, so I’ll email you once I find out more about it, and the cost too. The shot lasts up to six months – totally worth it, in my view.


          • Hey Steve – sorry for the late reply but I’m writing my Photo Camino book at the moment and everything else kind of drops away. I’m totally obsessive about it. But to respond: 1) I do try and keep my black stocking hidden under my trakky daks, but I must admit they do give me support where I need it… 2) You without your iPhone is like me without my white port… 3) I am Jennifer’s staunchest advocate – not that she needs it, although she eschews all forms of social media (she hates it) and she only just manages to use a phone… but she never keeps it charged and she doesn’t know how to text message. I always have to keep an eye on the battery to make sure it’s got enough charge, and every now and then I’ll see that a text message came in a few weeks ago and she wasn’t even aware of it… very funny.

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