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Lessons from the Camino


Lessons from the Camino (abstract)

Author: Michael Connory


I can't remember a time in my life when haven't searched for a challenge. I have dived with sharks, parachuted (Freefall), skydived over Rio, been on safari and watched an elephant charge our jeep and one of my great loves - I completed an Ironman Triathlon. However, my life was changed forever when I undertook a journey alone, a dream - walking from Roncesvalles (French/Spanish border) to Santiago, some 700kms on the other side of Spain. - the pilgrimage known as the Camino de Santiago had been a dream of mine for many years.  So, without much planning and even less preparation I left my wife (with her permission) and head across to Spain for two months.

  I started my trip with the following:
  • 18kg Backpack - filled with everything I needed and then some.
  • The most expensive, all encompassing hiking boots available on the planet
  • All encompassing, all weather jacket
  • Basic fitness (I was fit - but try walking 25km everyday for 30 days)


When I eventually reached Santiago I had the following with me:
  • 8kg Backpack with only essential clothes, a book and a MP3 player
  • A basic pair of walking shoes
  • Basic, light all weather jacket


I remember being nervous, excited, enthralled about the journey in front of me. Being extremely competitive by nature I couldn't help myself - I needed to compare with those also around me and taking the journey. I couldn't help myself - I wanted to walk faster, carry more, be more focussed than the other people who had decided to follow the same path as me. For the first five days I struggled - at one point I could barely walk (spraining my ankle coming down a hill outside of Pamplona.


So what did I learn:


Lesson 1. Don't carry too much baggage


On your life journey you simply can't carry too much baggage - you just can't make the distance carrying the baggage, you will probably make yourself sick and it's just difficult to learn and experience new and wonderful adventures.

I tried to carry everything, I wanted to carry everything - in the end it would have almost killed me. The ability to let things go is one of the most amazing and profound lessons I have ever learnt.


Lesson 2. Travel at your own pace

You have to walk at your own pace - the moment you start to compete against anyone else (they have better clothes, are faster walkers, better backpack....yada yada yada) you will only do yourself harm. The moment winning or being better than others becomes your priority, the entire journey stops and a mind game begins - one in which no-one can ever win - from my perspective you miss the beauty of the journey, the most amazing relationships


Lesson 3. It's about the journey

I so wanted to finish - that was my primary and driving goal; reach Santiago...but the most amazing part of the trip was the entire journey, every step, every sight, every smell, every friendship, every thought. That is what made this one of the greatest adventures of my life.


Lesson 4. People

I naturally trust others - I believe that people are essentially good and will always want to help. On my journey, I met so many wonderful, amazing, incredible people from all walks of life. All these strangers, helping, sharing, supporting each other - all in a new country for most. And everyone wanting essentially the same thing


Lesson 5. Faith

At some time you just have to trust that the journey you are on is right, that it has meaning - if if you aren't aware of it at the time - especially if you aren't aware of it at the time...having faith is everything.

I'm always happy to share my thoughts and experiences of the Camino...just contact me at mc@camino.com.au






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