A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Thoughts On The Camino

It's not the Catholic, guide book destination of the Camino (ie Santiago) that actually matters. The real destination is the place you yourself are destined to reach (ie in my case A Gudiña). Or the destination may not be a physical one at all - it may be a symbolic or a metaphysical one.

You can never finish the Camino anyway. It goes on for ever.

The Camino is not about winning or conquering, mastering or accomplishing, gaining or completing anything, in the sense of struggling to achieve a goal (ie reaching Santiago) and then feeling good about it. Well, not necessarily.

The Camino is about each day, hour and minute being your destination. Only if you believe this with all your heart and soul will you truly understand the essence of the Camino.

The Camino is not at its core about the French Way, the English Way, the Ruta de la Plata, the Ruta del Norte. It's not even about walking. (Just as this blog isn't really about walking.)

The Camino is about exploring and experiencing the heart's truth.

Do I sound convincing?


The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes you do, in answer to your question Robert. Are you back home yet?

Rachel Fox said...

Yes...and no.

It's hard though. I imagine you were brought up to 'do things properly', 'see things through', 'finish what you started' etc. They're all tough habits to break!


The Solitary Walker said...

Home on Saturday, Pat. Booked the last place on the Ryanair flight.

Mmm... Rachel. They sound very middle class values. But, even though I came from, I suppose, a mercantile, lower middle-class background (my father was very hard-working, self-employed, religious) - yes, I think I did have those things instilled in me. How very perceptive of you!

But really, honestly, I do believe in the things I've said in this post. It's a question of allowing my heart to catch up with my pre-wired brain.

Tramp said...

Hey, you'll have all the "sort your life out for you" life coach experts after you there.
"Just decide what your life goals are, go for them and hey presto success".
I'm not exactly sure what you're getting at but I feel that it's something more than that.
I spent over 2 years in the Antarctic thinking about
what my life goals were and I decided that I couldn't decide what they were.
If success is defined as: "winning or conquering, mastering or accomplishing, gaining or completing anything, in the sense of struggling to achieve a goal (ie reaching Santiago) and then feeling good about it", then I will not be there. I can't identify with that. My view of success isn't with that model dished out by the life coach experts.
If success "is about each day, hour and minute being your destination" then I can start to see something to look for and feel good about.
Sorry, did you want a YES or NO answer?

Rachel Fox said...

Are they particularly middle class values? No, I don't think so.

But then it all depends what you call middle class (and it changes all the time as a term, doesn't it, and it depends who's saying it!).

As my Dad was a doctor my Mum always tells me I can never be anything but middle class. I think this is largely wishful thinking on her part.


Dominic Rivron said...

I'm not sure one would want to break those habits. There is reason behind them. They're not of the same ilk as "keep your elbows off the table" (which I never understood, and which seemed to include forearms as well as elbows), things that make no sense at all.

The habits Rachel mentions are (a) good for one's self esteem so long as one is reasonably gentle on oneself with it and (b) folk-wisdom passed down from previous generations who lived in a pre-Welfare State world and although I would never advocate a return to that world, it is good to think one has the skills to survive in it tucked away somewhere, should one need to fall back on them.

Heavens - I sound like an old fogey. However, I'm not advocating the "Protestant Work Ethic", which people believe(d) for the sake of it and which seems to have helped to get us into the mess we're in. I'm thinking more along the lines of "if you think of a good line, make it into a poem".

The Solitary Walker said...

Tramp - didn't want a yes or no answer, just intended to provoke a little reflection and debate. Which I have done! I agree with you absolutely - which I think my piece makes clear. I'm not interested in conquering the mountain any more. I'd rather enjoy the view from the lower slopes.

Rachel, yes, I hate this 'class' thing, and nowadays, in this more egalitarian, democratic world of opportunity (I know I'm only talking about a small part of the world here), it's confusing and often pretty pointless to go on about 'class'.

Doninic - when young I had much of the 'keep your elbows of the table' thing, plus 'you mustn't talk at meal times'!!! (Don't know how the Spanish would react to that one..!) You an old fogey, Dom? Heaven forbid! Just keep away from teaming socks with sandals (I've been wearing both together some evenings on the Camino - oh dear) and please keep those old Status Quo records safely locked away (not that a Stockhausen buff will have any, I'm sure, but I know your tastes are eclectic...)

Anonymous said...

Robert, one piece of hoary old Camino wisdom that I was told in Spain is that on the Camino you receive what you need, not what you want.

Just as I was nearing the end, a friend texted me and said "I'm sure that the benefits of the journey will become clear over the next few decades".

It's your Camino and I am sure you stopped in the right place - I certainly wouldn't fancy a whole week walking the N 525.

Today's verification word is 'sherry' - have one for me


The Solitary Walker said...

Andy, I've seen enough of the N 525 to last a lifetime. (But I'm sure the benefits will become clear over the next few decades!!!)

'You receive wnat you need, not what you want.' Yes, I like that.

On Saturday the tail-end of a hurricane's predicted for Santiago. So for God's sake pray for me on that Ryanair flight...

Anonymous said...

prayers ascending - the storm is forecast to hit the Midlands on Sunday,


Thea said...

Hi, my name is Thea Hughes. I have recently published my debut novel Buen Camino - beyond the journey and I think you will enjoy reading it. It tells the tale of Ana, rejected by her mother and sexually abused by her father, who has carried the weight of her traumatic experience long enough. At the age of 30, she walks across Spain on the 764- kilometer Camino de Santiago trail, from St Jean Pied de Port to the Holy city of Santiago, discovering its colourful history, myths, legends and beautiful Spanish countryside, on a life changing quest to end her childhood pain.

The overwhelming physical demands of the walk add to Ana's emotional suffering. Through an unlikely friendship with Richard, a gentle, older man in the early stages of Alzheimer's, Ana gains the support and companionship she desires.

Richard teaches Ana to leave the past behind and live in the here and now - as his illness has forced him to do. These two become improbable friends: one who cannot remember and one who cannot forget. Buen Camino is a tale of romance and drama, but most of all, an inspirational one. For Ana, the act of walking the Camino has less to do with visiting a physical place than of finding that empty place inside herself, and filling it with purpose and inner peace.

Buen Camino - beyond the journey is a perfect book to read either before you walk the Camino or during your pilgrimage, as the characters in the novel inspire empathy, allowing you, the reader, to walk alongside Ana on her journey towards personal growth and fulfilment. You can follow the same route as Ana does, stopping in the same towns and villages,leaving your stones of sorrow at the base of the Cruz de Ferro, meeting Tomas Marinez de Paz, the last of the Knights Templar in Manjarin, eating pulpo, cocido marigato and torta de Santiago as she does and enjoying your bottle of red wine (tinto) served with all pilgrim meals in the same way that she does. You can find the 300-year old house which Richard buys and turns into a refugio with Ana's help in the book, as it really exists and is situated right on the trail between Sarria and Portomarin. The man you will find running the refugio, Casa Banderas, when you walk the trail, is the real life person on whom I based my fictional character, Richard.

If you are interesting in securing a copy of the book, contact me at scintillabooksales@gmail.com and I will arrange to post you one for the cost of the book (NZ$29.00) plus postage.

Blog: theahughes.wordpress.com

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Thea. I will check it out!