My Time On the Camino de Santiago

Both Sarah and I have had the great fortune to experience the magic of The Camino. I thought as a supplement to Episode 132, I share with you an extract from my journal, written just before I set off on the road.

The Road to Santiago is a very spiritual path. It was originally a Catholic pilgrimage for sinners who were trying to work off any time they might have to spend in Purgatory before they could get to heaven. It’s a 500-mile trail that runs across northern Spain from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela.

I first came across the Road to Santiago through reading Robert Twigger’s book On Being a Man in the Lousy Modern World. In it he talked a great deal about the death of living a life of action versus living a life of unisex blandness where style is more important than substance and how we look is more important than what we do.

I later came across the Road to Santiago through Paulo Coelho’s book, The Pilgrimage, which is his account of the Great Walk. He walked the Road to find something he had lost. After reading Coelho’s book, I decided I wanted to walk the Road to see what I could find. At the time, I was going through a serious low point in my life. I was on the verge of falling off the edge into oblivion with no hope of return.

I went to walk the Road to Santiago to find out what was missing in my life. On the surface, I didn’t seem to lack anything. I had my wife and kids, a house, a cool job, and we were making enough money to support a comfortable lifestyle. Yet something inside was missing, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was.

I hoped I could find this missing link on the Road to Santiago. Of course, it’s kind of hard to find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for in the first place.

Photo Credit: Fellow pilgrim, Christine Eriksen

Every epic journey must have a goal the explorer is seeking. Since I did not know what I was looking for, I set myself some sub-goals to give the journey some meaning. So, on the Road to Santiago, I set out to do something I had never done before which was to walk 500 miles as a part of a single venture. I also wanted to meet other pilgrims and find out what they were seeking on the Road.

A month before I set out to walk the Road, I told a good friend of mine that I didn’t know what I would find on the Road to Santiago, and he said,

“I suspect that on the Road to Santiago, you will find Santiago. It’s what you’ll bring back that intrigues me.”

Indeed when I relaxed into the profoundness of his words, the Road suddenly took on a new meaning for me. Instead of walking the Road as a frustrated man who didn’t know what he was looking for, I would walk the Road as an explorer open to whatever I might find.

I could probably fill another book with the full tale of my adventure, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll tell you what I bought back in the form of an epiphany I had along the Road:

“Open your eyes to the joy and wonder that is around you and enjoy the simple things in life.”

We can make life more complicated than it needs to be. And I’ll confess now, I have done my fair share of complicating life, making it into a great big tangled melodrama. When, in fact, I can find all the world’s peace in my back garden. It is right there, right now, hidden in the song of the birds, the smell of the flowers, and the gentle caress of the morning breeze.

Photo Credit: Fellow pilgrim, Christine Eriksen

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