I find myself measuring distances and relating them to those I walked on the Camino. I recently went back to Colorado to visit my mom and friends and found myself doing this on the drive to Boulder from Longmont. I’ve driven these twelve miles a million times but I never have walked them. I used to think it must take cyclists forever to commute the same route everyday. On the Camino, we would walk twelve miles (19 km) in three hours if my feet weren’t horrible. And an additional 2-8 miles before stopping every day for 33 days.
I look at the Flatirons and the Front Range and remember seeing the mountains in Spain. At first I would think it would take days to get there. Before I knew it we would be there. Maybe even the next day we’d climb over those mountains.
Driving minutes to cover what would take hours to walk is far easier of course. But far less memorable. A thoughtful friend gave me a book on mindfulness. It has exercises that are little ways to integrate awareness and living in the present into our busy lives. Things like using your less dominant hand to brush your teeth, or eat without distraction. Everything we do is about efficiency and maximizing every minute and capturing every experience. In doing so we forget to breathe. To really take it all in and just be present.
When my friend asked if I would still recommend walking the Camino to anyone based off our weather and my feet-challenged experience. I said I would and that everyone has a different Camino and like anything challenging, it was greatly rewarding. (More so in hindsight.) I think one of the great things about it was that you had three or four things you had to worry about each day. Fixing feet, finding a place to stay the night, where to eat and occasionally laundry. It was the essentials of living. Only what you needed to do to continue on and nothing more.
Of course real life is complex and filed with responsibilities and obligations but the Camino is a good exercise in slowing down, turning off and breathing. Of being mindful in our own lives. Maybe the Camino will speak to you, or answer whatever questions you ask of it. And maybe the Camino is just a good listener. You never know until you walk it!