Wondering why?

Jun 09, 2023

It’s taken me a while to write this. My Camino journey has been over for some days and I’ve been processing the whole experience. And getting used to my home time zone. ⏰

Along the way the question people asked me most often is: WHY are you doing this? I love questions that start with WHY, so let’s play with that. 

But first, a review of the WHAT:

I spent two months in northern Spain, walking the Camino de Santiago. My entire journey was about 555 miles, starting in St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France, stopping in Santiago de Compostela and ending in Finesterre. The first 3 - 4 days were cold & rainy, so I was cold & wet. I was so excited that it didn’t matter to me. Most of the rest of the days were relentlessly sunny.

I had a pretty simple routine: wake up, get dressed in one of my two hiking outfits, eat breakfast and start walking. I typically walked between 6 - 11 miles. Most days included second breakfast (I 💜second breakfast!) at a cafe filled with other pilgrims. We’d shrug off our packs, leave them outside and head in for cafe con leche and either a tortilla or pastry. Lunch was usually quick, either snacks that I carried or a sandwich on the go. After arriving at that night’s lodging, I’d typically drink a celebratory beer, shower and wash my clothes. Then dinner and soon afterward, climb into bed. 

I spent most of my walking time solo. I did meet wonderful people along the way, so I wasn’t a hermit. But every day it was up to me to figure out where I was going, how I’d get there if I couldn’t walk the entire stretch, where I’d sleep. All with my rusty Spanish and rarely enough sleep. I showed up to the Camino with foot pain, which, funnily enough, didn’t resolve itself by walking several miles each day while carrying a backpack. 😁

So WHY did I do this?

The quick answer is: because I wanted to do something big & scary by myself. For the past couple of years, I’ve thought of this a lot. I wanted to have a big vast experience that would really challenge me and be something I could look back on and feel really proud of accomplishing.  

I wanted a big block of time & space to simplify my days and reflect. Two months is a long time, even though it went quickly. Not only did I simplify my daily routine, I dramatically reduced the possessions I had. I loved this so much, I started dreaming of coming home and cleaning out closets. 

For most people, reaching the cathedral in Santiago and receiving a compostela (a certificate) is the big goal. Not for me. 

What I really wanted was to reach Finesterre - “the end of the earth” on Spain’s coast. Walking until I literally ran out of land and reached the ocean. I’m not 100% sure why, but this was much more special to me. Maybe because there’s a lot of symbolism in walking a long distance until I can’t walk any longer. By the time I reached Finesterre, not only was I out of walking surface, my body wasn’t willing to walk any longer. I didn’t cry when I reached Santiago; I cried a lot when I reached Finesterre. 

All of this (and much more) fueled me when I struggled. One of my favorite quotes is from Chelsea Dinsmore: When you question not what you can do but why it’s important to you, the how reveals itself. Some days I wasn’t sure how to continue on, but I always found the way.

A lot of learning/reminders came from this trip. This one feels like it applies to anything you’re working toward. Keep connected to your why and you will make it happen.

The first step to amplifying your life is simplifying your day.

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