I was somewhere along the Camino Francés, the 500-mile stretch from St Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela. Climbing a steep hill, I alternated my gaze between the ground just in front of my feet and the crest of the hill in the distance. “I can do this,” I thought to myself. “I can get to the top without stopping.”
It seemed like an eternity, but I did it. I reached the top. Only it wasn’t the top after all. Another equally steep ascent, previously out of view, was lurking just around the corner.
Sometimes there’s a downside to looking too far ahead. On the Camino, my focusing on the hilltop in the distance wasn’t particularly helpful or motivating. It led to expectations, anxiety or disappointment.
The same can happen in our everyday lives as well. While it can be reassuring to have a specific goal that propels you forward, sometimes it’s best to focus only on the next step, the step directly in front of you. The next step is easy and obvious. You will know what it is and you will already have all the tools you need. It’s not the next step if you don’t know what it is. The next step might just be to stop right where you are and look around. Look down at your feet. Be in this present moment. You can only go as fast as the next step.
“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step you’re taking in this moment. That’s all there ever is.” Eckhart Tolle
Whether or not you make it to the Camino de Santiago this year, one thing is certain. We are all on a Camino, a journey, putting one foot in front of the other, heading somewhere. Where are you headed? What do you seek? Have you noticed the waymarkers around you that are signalling your next step?
Karin is the author of 10 books, including Your Inner Camino and After the Camino. A San Diego-based writ- er, personal development coach and lifelong pilgrim, she leads an annual Camino Cleanup Program & Retreat along the Camino Francés. Contact her at support@KarinKiser.com.