So being a psychiatrist I’m supposed to treat anxiety, right? The funny thing is that, that is exactly what nearly made me stop almost every day. And that was the moment when I realized that on the Camino (and not only) the mind must be stronger than the body. So I had to ask myself some questions along the way:
1.Why am I doing this?
2. If it is so difficult, why are people coming back for more?
3. If I’d have the chance, would I do it again?
4. What is the difference between finding yourself here vs finding yourself on a beach in Greece for example?
5. How am I going to finish this?
Why am I doing this and why are people coming back for more?
I had to come back home, injured and without finishing the Camino to realize that the answer is that “I do it for the love!” And I´m quite certain you might think I am a little crazy. I mean who walks 300km for the love? But:
The answer is… thousands of people walk the Camino de Santiago routes every year and they too, do it for the love.
So, what do I mean when I say I do it for the love?
I loved the Camino even before starting it. I loved the idea of what the Camino means. It goes without saying that I loved the Camino whilst doing it; but it´s the love of a good adventure and challenge that really does it for me.
It´s the making of new friends and the intense connections that I made along the way.
It´s the aches and pains after a day when you never thought you would make it.
Most importantly, I do it for the incredibly sappy feeling that comes across you in the golden hour of the Camino. When you’ve gone past your pain barrier and you are walking on sunshine. When the world is a beautiful place again. When your dreams no longer seem out of reach and you believe that you can achieve anything.
I do it for the love, my friends. I do it for the love!
Would I do it again?
At psychotherapy my supervisor asked us if we have decided to what age we want to live to. And she said that we should be very careful when picking the age because this is how we will also know how much time we have left for ourselves. The rule is simple: you take 24 hours and you start subtracting the time you spend at work (let’s say 8 hours), the time you spend going and coming from work, the time you spend studying, sleeping etc. And voilà: you have like 2 hours/day left for things that make you happy. Multiply those 2 hours by the nr of days/year and then by the years you think you will have have until you die. And when you get to think about it, it’s not that much.
So yesterday evening at dinner, we met a 70 yo man from France and he said he is at his 7th Camino. And that he started this one from France and that he’s already walked for like 700 km.
Let me say that again: 70yo, 7 Caminos, more than 7000 km walked in total. He said this gives him the freedom he needs.
This just made me ‘upgrade’ my version to at least 80 years old. It was so inspiring to hear his story and I am beyond grateful for getting to know this kind of people on my way.
Therefore, I will walk the Camino (again) and I will finish it because the Camino teaches me to love life and to get out of my comfort zone more than ever. The Camino teaches me to believe in myself. And the Camino taught me a bunch of other stuff as well and you can read all about it here.
Why finding the real you on the Camino?
If I were to be really honest, I kinda had to come back home, to realize that there is a huuuge difference between finding the real you on an ‘all-inclusive-kind-of trip’ vs finding the real you whilst doing the Camino.
To understand what I am talking about, here is a glimpse of how my days on the Camino looked like:
-6:30 a.m- wake up and repack your backpack;
-7 a.m- breakfast;
-7.30 am- shoes on and off you go;
-7.30-12- hear nothing but the birds and the sound of your own steps and be happy. Think, rethink and overthink every aspect of your life.
-12 p.m- stop and check if your legs are still attached to your body. Then walk some more. Think, rethink and overthink every aspect of your life.;
-14 p.m- lunch then walk some more. Think, rethink and overthink every aspect of your life. Try to still be happy;
-17-18 p.m- stop walking and crawl to your Albergue;
-18:30 p.m- shower and wash the clothes you used for the day;
-19 p.m- dinner. Try to socialize;
-21 p.m- massage your legs with lots and lots of anti inflammatory gel. Cry whilst doing this;
-21:30 p.m- put earplugs and try to sleep;
-1:30 a.m- still can’t sleep because of all the snoring;
-6:30 a.m- repeat.
Well, I guess I made myself pretty clear on this one.
How am I going to finish this?
I actually have no idea, since I haven’t finished it yet. I guess I will keep asking myself that for the next year as well.
with help from @wildcamino who inspired this meaningful answers)