Taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago taught me the beauty of slowing down and enjoying the moment. Unlike other sports, the act of walking does not require much thought to put one foot in front of the other. I felt like a sponge with an opportunity to soak up all that was present.
Prior to walking the Camino my life has been lived fast. I recall racing through math exams in the third grade with a goal of finishing first. I rushed into the restaurant business, as a dishwasher, at age 12. I plowed through virginity, beer, and pot in Jr. High. College was about graduating and my career at Micron Technology was about getting the next sale. Trips were about arriving and meals were about stuffing my face and paying the check.
The glide to sanity began at age 36 when I traded money for time and entered retirement. Getting off the never ending treadmill was my first opportunity to see the ground below my feet. Compared to the horizon, the view is quite different.
In 2006, I took my first major journey through Europe on a bicycle. Over a six week period, I pedaled over 2,000 miles through nine countries. I kept the focus on each day and fought the urge to let my mind convince me that everything would be better when I reached a certain spot. France was towards the end of the trip and I JOKED with my friends that life would be perfect when I finally found the famous nude beaches. Upon arrival, the Playboy Grotto fantasy was replaced with “Grannies Gone Wild” and reinforced my decision to travel without expectations!
I enjoyed several more long distance bike journeys through the years, but still found myself pushing the pace for no logical reason. My time wandering on the Camino changed my life. The mindless monotony of walking gave me time to focus on the small moments in life. The slowness of walking gave me the opportunity to connect with nature, enjoy conversation, and meditate.
Now, when a flight is delayed, it is an opportunity to explore an airport. Delivering a speech is about meeting the people, not collecting a fee. Life is short……apply the brakes whenever possible.