Reflections on Foot
Burgos, August 2023
Life Goals, Ambitions, Bucket List, etc.
Over the last 12 days I have begun walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain. It's a 500-mile hike across mountains and countryside, through vineyards and cities and there is little else to do but walk. It is something I have wanted to do for over 20 years, talked about it, planned it, discounted it, delayed it, and finally I am doing it.
At 53, this is a daunting task. Walking around 23-25 km per day. Staying in mixed hostels, avoiding 40-degree heat, not having my usual comforts, and having to mix with people from all over the World, many who do not speak a word of English. I am loving it, of course.
As I began the walk in St Jean, in Southern France, that first morning, I scaled the first hills with a gent called Jasser from Holland. He is 28 and having a short career break trying to work out what he really wants to do. Later I met a graduate from the UK, also delaying her start of work, to do this 6 week walk. I met a US young woman, between jobs, making sure she uses her untaken leave, and her notice period, and the time before she starts her new job, to do this walk.
All of these people are more than 20 years younger than me, and by god, how I envy them their youth and fitness, but also, their choices. This walk will alter perspectives. It has already altered mine. I wonder again and again, if I had done this earlier, when I first heard about it, what effect it would have had on my life back then? What sort of person would it have changed me into?
Isn't that the draw, the appeal of bucket list trips and experiences? We expect and want them to change us in some way for the better. We almost know, for certain, that they will, Then my question is, why delay? If I had waited another ten years, maybe to retirement, then the inclination would have still been there, but the ability would have been in even more doubt.
The argument about timing and resources, my friends, is the argument I have used myself for 20 years. There is never a perfect time, and never, in my experience, a time when your finances look perfect for something like this. Do it anyway. Adjust your life for a few short weeks, change priorities for a few months, plan as much as you can, expecting things to get in the way, but then go anyway. The feeling of release, and the power it triggers in your brain is worth any stress, It diminishes the stress. You want to self-heal? You want to sort out your head? You want to challenge yourself? It's an investment.
So look at that list on your wall. The faded post-it. The crumbled notes in a drawer or a saved email. Don't do it one day because you won't. Do it now.