Writers, poets and philosophers have all pondered this question over time, and their answers often echo in one way or another the words of St. Augustine: “Solvitur ambulando.” (“It is solved by walking.”)
Friedrich Nietzsche said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” And Raymond I. Myers noted “If you seek creative ideas, go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.”
A more specific question, recently posed by the New York Times to author Robert Macfarlane, is “Why Walk an Ancient Path?” Although I have been walking the Camino de Santiago/Way of St. James for almost two decades, the question still gave me pause. Why is walking an ancient path different than just walking around your neighborhood or the city or a county park? There are a few reasons that come to mind.
First, the Camino, like other ancient paths, carries the energy of the millions of people who have walked before you. Sorrow, joy, love, friendship, contemplation, resolve, determination. It is all there. You can feel it. And you can draw from it whatever you need on any particular day.
Second, walking an ancient path, by definition, means that you are amid nature. It is a completely different sensation than walking in a city. There is nothing to separate you from the flowers, birds, people and animals that you meet. No office buildings, interior spaces or walls to interrupt your connection with the earth beneath your feet and the beings who you meet along the way. In the case of the Camino, sheep and cows who are out for a walk are your companions as often as people on some days.
Third, it takes time. The Camino is long. Even if you only walk a part of it as we do with Authentic Journeys, it is days and days to be out of your routine and surrounded by new sights and sounds, which for the most part are soft and pleasant and warm. Sure, you will likely get rained on at some point. Yes, you will have days that seem too hot or too cold. And you may find yourself accompanied by a blister or two on your walk. But when in your normal life do you walk (or dance) in the rain, stay outside all day when it is too hot or too cold, or learn to accommodate a low level of physical discomfort because of what you will be able to see and experience if you do? Probably not that often. Walking the Camino gives you the opportunity to find beauty all around, inside and out, day in and day out.
You each will have your own answer to the question, “Why Walk?” And I would suggest that if you are going to go for a long walk, there is no better place to do it than an ancient path like the Camino de Santiago. We hope that you will come join us on one of our tours, with an open mind and an open heart for all the gifts that the Camino can bring.
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