When preparing for my 6th Camino, I am often asked, “so why do you walk again”? It is an interesting question and one I find difficult to answer in a few words, so I am going to start writing and see where it leads. For me, walking is about pleasure as much as about destination.
The experience of being away from my comfort zone and all the pressures and responsibility that comes with everyday life, is what draws me to walking. I enjoy the feeling of being in the wilderness, walking with my backpack. I am totally reliant on my own skills, knowledge and preparation.
The challenge, the scenery, the camaraderie, the exercise, the lifestyle, is my aphrodisiac and I feel at ease. I walk to escape the built environment, to go somewhere that is peaceful, to see different places and environments and just get away from life for a bit. The exercise is an added bonus.
I love the feeling of waking to the sun, not worrying about time. For when I walk the Camino, the Camino takes me. I enjoy the changing nature of a walk, physical, mental and. as you approach your destination, spiritual. You have time to think and look at your life closely and in depth. Walking allows your mind to wander. The challenge with so much time to think, is not to over think.
Friends are important when you walk, you can wander along left to your own thoughts or be engaged in social conversation. I find the Camino brings out the best qualities in people and as such resuscitates my faith in human mankind.
As you approach the end of a long walk, there is a feeling of accomplishment and completion. How many people can say they have walked across a country and walked continuously for 40 days and 1000 kilometres carrying everything they need. My last Camino was 1,100,000 steps.
By walking I get away from time and stress and move into a better more transcendent space. Most importantly for me the Camino has given me inner strength, something that may not be as evident to people who know me. Confidence can sometimes just be external. I now believe I have inner strength and confidence to conquer all before me.
For me when I walk, I am reminded of “John Steinbeck’s” quote: “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policies and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. For me, “the longer I walk, the longer I walk”.