While taking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago, people often relied on strangers for help and comfort. Gazillions of random acts of kindness were disbursed on that sacred soil each day. It may have been sharing a blister bandage or maybe just an ear for a soul that needed to be heard. It did not matter whether it was giving or receiving, each side of the equation stimulated those elusive endorphins.
Since my return, people keep crossing my path with some interesting situations that bring me back to the trail. On a daily basis, I am usually in communication with someone that is planning, walking, or ending their Camino. A few weeks ago, a friend emailed me from the Denver airport in the midst of a complete panic attack. Her flights were delayed and the arrival in Madrid was pushed out by 48 hours. Her missive required advice on which portion of the path would be a good candidate for a bike so she could race forward and get back on her agenda. It was time for some tough love.
My first keystrokes were to remind her that the Camino began when she decided to make the trip. I told her that she was already on the path and needed to deal with her unpleasant detour by accepting that the only thing she can control is her reaction to the situation. In the spirit of what is meant to be, I urged her to find a pot shop and enjoy Denver. No better place to do as the Romans do. She resisted my advice and was quite upset with that I was not more sympathetic. About ten days later, she sent me a note from Spain telling me about how lucky she was to have the flight delay as it put her with an exceptional group of new friends. Had the plane departed on time, her entire journey would have been a different trip. Trust the universe.
Last week, a local man called and requested an emergency cup of coffee. His mind was playing games and creating doubt about his September trip to Spain. He wanted me to be the “salve for his anxiety.” We met at Starbucks and had a delightful conversation. His nerves were elevated with thoughts about the logistics of arriving at the beginning of the path in France. He convinced himself that accepting this drama was OK, but that when his foot hit the path in St. Jean, everything would be OK.
The unsolicited adviser in me began to spew my perspective. My point was to tell him that all he can do is study the available available options and make the best possible plan. After that, he also needs to understand that any delays must be accepted. I also shared a mistake that I made on a previous journey. On one of my bike trips, I was always projecting into the future and creating that elusive point where everything would be OK. That point does not exist because we are already there. 99.9999 percent of the time, everything is OK in the current moment. Give it a try right now. Close your eyes and identify a problem that your are experiencing at this exact moment. Why is that bastard of a mind always trying to rain on a sunny day?
I am honored and lucky that these people have pulled me into their lives and are willing to share their joys and fears.
On another note, PBS did a 30 minute feature story about my experience in Spain. Click here to watch the program: VIDEO. If possible, please share with social media, friends, enemies, lovers (past, present, and future), family, and media contacts. If you have Oprah or Ellen on speed dial, now is the time to make the call.