While walking on the Camino, I had the pleasure to be disconnected from most of the world. I did not carry a smart phone, did not read a newspaper, and did not check the news on the internet. Most importantly, my only time viewing a TV was in a bar with loads of friends watching Barcelona play Madrid in a soccer match. At the end of the epic game, it was a tie. The entire table laughed at me when I asked about the rules for overtime. My American cover was blown with the inquiry.
During the trek, there is little time to be anywhere other than the present. Each day is filled with uncertainty and unfamiliar events that are completely beyond the control of any pilgrim. Learning to let go of worry was a powerful lesson learned on this ancient path. For the sake of argument, weather is a perfect example. What good would it do for me to worry about the weather? The only thing that I control in that battle is my ability to react to the situation. If it rains, I can be prepared with a poncho. If it is hot, I can prepare with water and sunblock. Worrying about the inevitable climate of the day is a futile exercise.
Along the walk, I began to take a personal inventory of all of the wasted time that I have spent worrying about all the things in my life that are completely beyond my control. It did not take long to realize that almost everything is beyond my control and therefore deserves only a miniscule amount of my time. I am not encouraging a “head in the sand” mentality. Being aware and preparing for a situation is much different from trying to worry about and control an event.
When I returned to Boise, I made a cognizant effort to eliminate useless worry from my life. The first thing I did was to identify the sources and seeds of worry. The top of the list was cable and network news programs. Prior to the walk, I was a complete news junkie. From an arrogant point of view, I looked down on people that were not informed and abreast of current events. I felt is was a duty which fostered my addiction to current news. Well guess what, 99.9% of the news focuses on things that are way beyond my control and not worthy of my time. I pulled the plug and have never looked back.
A friend sent me the following poem:
For every problem under the sun
There is a solution of there is none
If there is one, go and find it
If there is none, then never mind it
Eliminating worry frees up an immaculate amount of time that can be spent on more productive projects or leisure.