One of the many great things about walking The Camino de Santiago is meeting strangers from all over the world. There are approximately 195 countries on this planet and I met individuals from more than 40 countries on both walks. The modern-day walkers come in all sizes and shapes from every corner of the planet. Some seek religious affirmation while others aspire to a spiritual awakening. Many are there solely for the physical challenges of the adventurous journey. It provides an appealing escape from the day-to-day routines of our busy lives.
Here is an excerpt from my book to describe some of my interactions with pilgrims:
By this point in my journey, I had met many diverse people from all walks of life who came to Spain from every corner of the world. It seemed to me that the Camino was an equalizer of all people. On the Way, people were not defined by their religion, age, occupation, or wealth. We all slept in the same room and nobody had a gold-plated backpack. Instead, we were defined by how we treated each other in the moment. The more time I spent with my new friends, the more I realized how similar we all are as human beings. Our problems with relationships, finances, health, and mortality are all universal, as are the common denominators that unlock our enjoyment of happiness. From the first step, we felt like a large family walking each other home.
While family is a great thing, we all have that one uncle or distant cousin that consistently tends to attract chaos. One of the best things about life on the Camino is no need to hang with the loonie relative for an extended period of time. Compassion is a beautiful trait, but boundaries are necessary in our lives. Saying, “Buen Camino” and walking away is a totally accepted method of a conscious decoupling with any individual for any reason.
Tomorrow, I am departing for another in the stream of seemingly never ending journeys. For the next six weeks, I will be living in a coastal jungle in the city of Montezuma in Costa Rica. In the weeks leading up to this trip, I enjoyed many super encounters with my best friends. Shelly joined me for lunch last week and her heart is the size of the universe. We both share a deep spiritual connection. Amy met me for lunch on Friday. She is a relatively new friend, but always interesting, supportive, and intriguing. My neighbors Bob and Jim hosted me for a steak dinner night at Barbacoa. These two men are always upbeat and help me in ways that are hard to comprehend. My good friend Carlos took me to dinner and we once again solved all the worlds problems. We ride bikes often and he giggles like a child on the downhill. Genuine happiness. I met Teri for java at Whole Foods and she shared a story about seeing nature’s art. On the way to meet me, she passed a pond filled with pink pedals floating on water. According the her, it was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen in life! At the end of the week, I had an unpleasant encounter with an anonymous acquaintance at the gym. I do my best to avoid him because 99.9% of the time he has trivial complaints blast to the surface like water out of a geyser. A chronic sucker of positive energy. He is the loonie relative.
Looking in the rear view mirror, I am filled with gratitude for being surrounded by such great people. I am a big believer in the laws of attraction where like attracts like. If you want your life to blossom, hang out with people that share your bright outlook. Never be afraid to say, “Buen Camino” and walk away from the toxic people in your life. It may seem hard at first, but with a little practice, you will never look back……