(Originally posted on 27 August 2016)
One of my favorite moments of the Camino is after dinner, when the pilgrims start to plan the following day - when to wake up, the miles to walk, the hostel where we’ll sleep, and some even plan out the stops they will make and the places to eat at.
However, most of the time, things do not go as we planned. Maybe our muscles are in too much pain to walk that much, maybe the albergue we selected is full (because most hostels along the Camino do not accept reservations), maybe we want to walk slower to enjoy the conversation with someone who meet on the path (God knows how many relationships start during the Camino...)
For professionals with a compulsive approach to life, who are used to elaborate mid and long-term planning, the Camino is a humility shower. You would discover that everything is subject to the limits of your body, and you would have to admit to yourself that you cannot control everything. On the other hand, this reality check has its advantages, because you would internalize the skills of improvisation and problem solving, to the extent that they become part of you, and not just on the books.
Obviously this does not mean that you don’t have to organize your trip at all - having a good knowledge of backpacks, tracks and emergency procedures is critical and can help you avoid most of the problems. But having a more flexible attitude – i.e. losing a little bit of control, and not putting your mark on everything you do - has its merits. And maybe you would come to understand that, without a little bit of help from the destiny, you would not have come this far..
After the first Camino, I started saying a sentence like a mantra, which is (probably erroneously) attributed to Shakespeare:
“Expectations are the root of all evil”.
Indeed, I don’t think is very far from the truth. If you expect something specific from the world and the people around you, you risk being disappointed, and even the positive events seem like ordinary stuff. Without expectations, you won’t be shaken by the bad news, and every joyful moment will be seen as a wonderful surprise. Step by step, day by day, you will start redefining the world around you, and discovering a different meaning of gratefulness.
I do not believe it is easy, but I believe it’s worth a try.