The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage that exists in the north of Spain. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camino_de_Santiago
If you do the recommended “French” way, which actually starts just over the Pyrenees in France, you’ll find yourself walking 20km a day for 35 days. That’s 700 kilometers give or take.
What do you learn on a month long 700km walk across a country?
For me, there is one thing that holds its head high. It’s a lesson on surmounting perceived impossibilities, as the Camino is concrete real life demonstration of something most people aren’t familiar with: drive.
Yes, it’s ironic talking about “drive” in the midst of a story about a walk. However, truth is more than words or talk. “Drive” is going toward a goal till your feet have no more flesh and, for any reason other than sleeping and eating, not even entertaining the idea of “stop.”
When you are “driven,” the notion of waking up and progressing becomes paramount. There is nothing else. It’s the same on the Camino. You keep walking day in, day out.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The journey is the joy. However, if you want a metaphor for what you need to do to get ahead in life, actually hunt down your dream to be something more, think: Camino.
Wake up and go, everyday. Just go until you’re there. Walking is enough, just be sure you’re covering ground and breathing the air.
Along the way you may encounter many things:
- Drunk Catalans, old German men with ADHD – hiking fast enough to cover 50km a day, cool couples that hail from different countries, super talkative religious guys, women walking with their wiener dogs, super quiet peaceful churches, and wine fountains.
- 17 kilometer sections of desolation, blisters as big as your heels, leg-sore 35km walks over mountains through amazing “Windows XP background” valleys.
(no shit – I took this picture)
- Mud on newly formed roads/tracks, that #1, sticks to your feet – turning your boots into 10 kilogram “slippery cement blocks of shit,” or #2, forms deceptive holes that suck you in up to your knees – causing you to throw up your hands and say “fuck this.”
- Enlightened dudes and sincerely quiet moments in which 10 minutes of silence and peace dance – while birds chirp and a horse eyes you in the distance
- Your girlfriend flipping out over a lost map and hiking 2km back on her own – trying to retrieve the map after already finishing and setting her pack down, and alternative routes over mountains with amazing views.
- Vegetarian alburges with bed bugs that stay with you for maybe a week, group dinners, 1 Euro Spanish wine consumed by the bottle every night, trails covered with snails, naked German-girl boobies in communal sleeping rooms, storks on European churches, seeing towns from 10-15 km away then walking 2 to 3 hours to get there in the afternoon.
- Chorizo in excess – as well as lomo bocadillos, playing guitar to groups of people as suns set, driving cold windy rain on a meandering path around an airport outside of Burgos, screaming at the one you love.
- Shade being 10 degrees Celsius cooler than sunny spots – and having to put on / take off your hat and scarf more than 10 times from morning to when you stop, the differences between people who had been walking for a while verses those tourists that only wanted to see the view – Compostella amateurs having started a mere 4 days away instead of 30 like we did.
- An alburge in the frozen underground recess at the bottom of a monestary where we finally killed the last of the bedbugs we found.
- Having to do surgery on blisters then keying into the idea of walking in your sandals to help your feet rebound
- Knowing that travel nowadays is so fast that you can’t get to know your environment – the trees, the birds, the grass, ground, smells, temperature, the pulse of the earth, the sound – skipping so much as you go past, no immersion, then feeling as such, freaked out by the speed (almost like a time traveler) as you fly back to your home on a train that covers in 30 minutes what you would have walked in the 4 days.
- And this:
In other words, as you pursue your goal, there will be life! Enjoy the shit out of it.
However, remember to keep walking in the midst.
People will pop in, pop out, and perhaps even stay. You just keep walking; time after time, day after day. Foot after foot, your progress is not a steep mountain that you climb easily. Instead, it’s suffering, taking punches and continued moving.
Then in the end, perhaps you have reached. Your efforts paid off. Your stoicism reaping benefit that most people don’t see. Confidence and reward bigger than most will ever understand. You decided, then you went, then you did it. Now my goal is a reminder of who I am.