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A Long Walk

Ever wondered what it would be like to get up each morning with no cares in the world and just walk? I think many of us have thoughts of a different kind of life but rarely get the chance to try it. I am just back from walking across Northern Spain on the Camino De Santiago. It is a pilgrimage route of 780 kms (500 miles) from south west France to Santiago de Compostela. I was away for six weeks.

We establish habits and ways of being throughout our lives. I live life fast and focused with strong determination and so it is no surprise that I set out on my walk in a similar fashion. I met others and we formed a group often walking together, staying in the same hostels at night. I walked 25-30 kms a day setting off each morning at a steady, fast pace just like everyone else, because that is what I do.

However, ‘just like everyone else’ was not going to be my Camino story. The fast, focussed and determined ended up slow, deliberate and alone.

Sometimes the change we seek in ourselves comes in surprising guises. A few weeks into the walk I booked myself into a guest house/retreat centre called Flores del Camino (www.floresdelcamino.com) for a night. I had spotted a place described as one of Spain’s most beautiful villages and thought I would take a look and get a room to myself for a night there, as a treat. As I got nearer I started to look forward to visiting somewhere different from the usual bunk rooms of the hostels.

When I entered the courtyard of this very special place time stood still. It was so beautiful it took my breath away. I remember standing under an apple tree full of blossom and listening to the song of the bees, it was so loud it took over my senses completely. For a moment in time I understood everything, I knew all there is to know about life and it all made perfect sense. I decided to stay a few days and my Camino took on a new meaning.

I had lost all my friends as they continued on and I left this place 5 days later alone. I noticed I walked slower, more deliberately step by step and it dawned on me that to change the way you walk is no small feat. Maybe we walk how we live life and we can only change if we learn to walk differently. I had learned how to walk in a new way.

The Camino gives you what you need, not always what you thought you wanted. To get up and walk day after day is a gift to be treasured and an opportunity not to be missed if it is possible.