Walking the Camino
By Randy Klassen, Calgary Director
Every morning I wake up, sit on the edge of my bed, and evaluate the day ahead. Some days are full of excitement and challenge, some are full of doubt or conflict, and most are somewhere in between. I’ve been getting up for work for 35 years and sometimes the days just blend together. I’ve wondered how many more days I will have to get up and go to work. Maybe you have felt some level of mundaneness or drudgery when getting up every morning for work too.
A year ago, I had the privilege of walking the Camino de Santiago, an 800-kilometre trek across northern Spain. It has been a dream I have had for over 30 years and the opportunity finally came last spring. I trained for over a year by walking five kilometres per day and even carried a full backpack around for the month before I left.
I assumed the whole trip was going to hinge on my ability to walk 25 to 30 kilometres each day. A few days into the trek, I discovered that the trip was not so much about being able to walk 25 kilometres per day; it was about getting up the following morning to do it again, then the next morning to do it again, and again, and again. . . .
Physically, the Camino was about endurance, not distance. I developed the endurance to finish in just under 30 days. While I had prepared to walk 25 kilometres per day, I had not prepared to walk it day after day. For the first 10 days my body ached—mostly in joints where I had experienced previous injuries in life.
The momentum I gained and the endurance I built carried me through. I gained experience on how to deal with pain while walking, to pace myself, to properly ascend and descend hills, and to wake early and walk before the sun wore me down. All of those simple but hard-learned tips came through the pattern of walking every day.
While I still wake up and evaluate the day every morning, I don’t look at the days through the lens of drudgery or mundaneness anymore. Walking the Camino was very meaningful to me in many ways, but in an unexpected way it has helped me see my working life as a journey. Every day is another step toward completing my goals. Even those days that I don’t look forward to still bring me closer to my goals and teach me something for future use. I encourage each of you to look at the big picture of what each day can bring to you and how it is bringing you closer to your goals, or not.