Pilgrims hug a tree on the Camino

What's your story?

We all have one. Each of us became who we are not only as a result of where we were born and raised, but what has happened to us on our journey through life.

I think stories are powerful, and now more than ever, I think sharing them is the most effective and non-controversial way for us to connect and communicate in a time of such divisiveness. It is also the “real” thing underlying Facebook and Instagram pics of everyone’s best take on their life and a habit of “communication” through texting, not talking.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, like or hate Obamacare, and regardless of where you live or how much money you have, you have had obstacles to overcome and struggles in your life that are likely not unique to you. We find commonality and connection in our lives when we honestly share our stories. I bet many of you have aging parents like me, and caring for them and watching the decline is heart-wrenching and life-altering. Or maybe unlike me, you have children who have presented challenges or been ill. Just because it hasn’t happened to me doesn’t mean that I am not interested in and moved by your story. It is the thing that tells me who you really are more so than your opinions and views on the happenings in our world. And sharing WHO YOU ARE, not what you do or what you think, is the best gift you could give me.

So what does this have to do with the Camino de Santiago? A lot! The Camino is and has been for over a thousand years, a place where strangers come together and can share their stories. To find some common ground with someone from another country or a different background. Learn. Care. Experience life through someone else’s eyes. A simple question, “Why are you walking?” can tell you a tremendous amount about a person in a very short period of time.

On one of our customized tours this September, we had the privilege of leading a group of business people/entrepreneurs who belong to the same organization but did not all necessarily know each other. One of the organization’s touchstones is for people to share their stories – what built them as people. Not just what contributed to their business or financial success, but what were the building blocks of who they are – how they were raised, what events had a profound impact on who they became. We spent hours at dinner every night listening to stories and learning about each other. Some stories were inspiring, some poignant, some funny. But the point is that when you have the courage to share your story, you find connection with others.

And telling your honest story requires vulnerability. The book that really opened my eyes on this subject, and ultimately led me to find the courage to publish my own story, is Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. Because I genuinely believe in the power of story-telling, my next book will be to tell the story of the thousands of people who live and work along the Camino. I want to learn about and share their stories about why they sacrifice and care for pilgrims and what they have learned from their front porch, having the world walk by their houses, in some cases, for their entire lives.

So what’s your story? We really want to know! We hope that on our tours we foster an atmosphere where everyone is free to be themselves, to share their story, and to learn from others. There is much to experience and transform you on the Camino, and sometimes it is a conversation, not a place, that does it. In the end, as Ram Dass says, “we are all just walking each other home.”

Laurie Duperier is co-owner of Duperier’s Authentic Journeys and author of The Endless Path.

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