Short stories, Travel and Health Information
“Whatever do those who race to Santiago in record time manage to see?”
It was this observation – it was more of a rhetorical question, I realised, from one my Camino companeros – that made me stop and think. Why do people decide to walk the Camino like running a marathon, planning to walk forty plus kilometres (or twenty five miles) each day – when in my view the Camino is something that must be done slowly, a journey where one takes things easy and allows oneself to slow down? Who in their right senses wants to rush through this journey and miss the very benefit of the slow journey to Santiago?
On reflection I realised that mine was a very presumptuous judgement.
After all, who is to say which way is right and which way is wrong? Just as there are so many different roads that lead to Santiago de Compostela, so too there are so many different ways of making this journey, and each of these ways is the Right Way for the person making that journey. Everyone has his or her own Camino and everyone will benefit, in some way or another, in great ways or small, by making this journey.
Life, it has been said, is a feast if only we lay down our suspicions and fears and allow ourselves to receive it – and so too is the Camino.
If you walk slowly, you have time to stop and savour and appreciate what you come across on the journey. If you walk in the company of a loved one, you have time to enjoy their company along the way. If you walk alone, you have the opportunity to walk with your thoughts.
But if you decide to walk quickly – or walk just the minimal 100 kilometres from Sarria to Santiago – that too is a Camino from which you will benefit. Because it is not just reaching your destination but it is the making of a journey that requires training and discipline. Taking as much time off from your householder’s life that you can afford to take off, walking at a pace that is right for you and compatible with your capabilities – that too will result in some form of change in the life to which you return.
It is far better, I have realised, to walk a fast Camino, or a seven day Camino from Ferrol or A Coruna, or a Camino in two week stages over several years or just a 100 kilometre Camino from Sarria – than to have never walked the Camino at all.