It’s nearly four years since I walked my first Camino, and the impact of that pilgrimage walk continues to resonate.
It resonates in a number of ways.
I now walk everywhere. Whereas prior to the Camino I would drive up to the shops, or I would drive from point A to point B, now whenever possible, I walk.
Last week I walked 82kms. That’s not a huge distance, but in amongst my work and everything else I was doing, it’s still a healthy distance. I average about 300kms a month. If I need to go somewhere, my first thought is: can I walk there.
Somehow, I’ve healed my knee.
I’m really not sure how I’ve healed it, but this is a knee that had lost all its cartilage. I was bone-on-bone. My surgeon told me that, quote: “A knee replacement is not a matter of if, but when.”
I didn’t accept that. I bought a brace, wore that on a couple of shorter Caminos, then this last year I walked the Portuguese Camino without the brace at all. My knee was a bit twingey a few days, but basically it was fine. I now don’t wear the brace at all.
How did this happen?
I didn’t accept what the doctor told me. I listened to my body, I took it easy, I exercised it, and gradually my knee improved. Whether the cartilage has grown back, I don’t know. I don’t take vitamin supplements, I haven’t had any injections – I’ve just walked most days, and as I say, I’ve listened to my body, and throttled back when the knee’s got cranky.
I don’t get het up about things like I used to. On the Camino, I adopted a mantra: What’s the worst that can happen? That mantra has stayed with me.
If I’m faced with an issue that, prior to the Camino, would have caused me concern or anxiety or stress, now I ask myself: What’s the worst that can happen? And invariably, if you honestly consider the worst, then the worst isn’t so bad.
For that to have full benefit though, you have to have your shit together.
For instance, I don’t consider death or disability or ill health to be so bad. I don’t consider loss or lack to be so bad. I trust that I am being guided on my right path, and what falls along that path falls for a very good reason. Those reasons I agreed to before I was born. So if I believe I agreed to them, how can I bitch and moan?
What’s the worst that can happen?
When you get to that realisation, life becomes very simple. I’m not there yet fully – in truth – but I’m working at it. I now meditate religiously each day, a minimum of 21 minutes, and that helps a lot.
I don’t let things bother me anymore. Even when I get back to my car and a ranger is writing me up a parking ticket, I figure: Poor bugger, I bet a lot of people yell at you.
I used to.
Also, another thing I’ve brought back from the Camino is the concept of what I call Incremental Achievement. Incremental achievement is walking 800kms across a country by walking 20kms a day, day in, day out. Putting one foot in front of the other, and not giving up till you get there.
A book is 80,000 words, give or take.
If I apply this Incremental Achievement concept to writing a book, then if I write 1,000 words a day, then in 80 days I’ll have written a book! 80 days is, what? less than three months? Bloody hell. All I have to do is write a 1,000 words a day and in less than three months, I’ll have written a book.
That’s the same as if I walk 20kms a day, in 40 days I’ll have walked the Camino Frances. That’s a pretty powerful concept, Incremental Achievement. I’ve brought that back from the Camino, and it’s changed my life.
Where do I start?
I’m not the person I was before my first Camino. Period. Before my first Camino I had the potential to be the person I now am – but I needed that experience to bring it into full realisation.
I now am in awe of wonder.
I now am in awe of possibilities.
I now have an inkling – an inkling – of life’s purpose.
And it leaves me in awe.
It’s difficult to bring the Camino back with you, back into your everyday life when you return. You have to work at it.
You have to remember what you learned.
What you experienced.
How you felt.
Maybe for you it was just a walk.
It wasn’t for me.
For me, what I learned continues to resonate.
(By the way, in the photo below, there’s too much headroom)