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The Backpack

My Camino walk was the first time I backpacked, it was an interesting experience. I did not know what type of a pack would be appropriate for the walk. It took two tries before getting it right and only then because of the helpful people at Hiker’s Haven. It was a thirty-four liter Osprey backpack, for me it proved to be a perfect fit. It was all adjusted and fitted for my frame, with water and all my belongings for the trip, the weight was slightly over eight kilograms.

I walked a couple of times at home, wearing the backpack with a weight equivalent to the weight I would carry on the Camino. I was satisfied that walking daily on the Camino I would become adjusted to the backpack and its weight. My first day was only a short walk from Pied St. Jean to Orisson, where I had the only reservation I made for the trip. I could take my time and get the backpack adjusted, so it rode well and was comfortable. I removed it several times and finally got it riding on my back and hips. It was comfortable and after a day or two, it was almost as if I was unaware of it. When I put it on in the morning I was aware of the weight, but it carried well. When you carry all your belongings and everything you need for each day you tend to be very careful over the backpack. The contents are precious, each evening before retiring to my bunk I would have everything packed and ready to go for the next morning. The only items left out was my sleeping bag and clothes for the next day, always very attentive not to leave anything. Well, most of the time!

I was staying at a very nice private Albergue on the back of a hotel in Villa Franca. There was a cabinet that reached to the top bunk, where I was sleeping. That night when I retired I put my eyeglasses on the top of the cabinet. The next morning my Texan friend who was in the bottom bunk and I were leaving at five thirty. I did my look around, making sure nothing was left behind. It was dark and my headlamp was on red so it would not bother the other pilgrims who were still sleeping. I checked, had everything and we were of. The first part of the walk was all uphill, which was good, the morning was cool and we were at our peak strength.

About two and one half kilometers out, and just starting to break daylight we stopped to read a plaque. I couldn’t read it, not because of the light, but I had no eyeglasses and I need them to read. I remembered putting them on the cabinet the night before and the only place I never checked before setting out on the days walk. I had to go back and quickly, my friend said she would wait for me and keep watch over my backpack, so I would not have to carry it. The return to my starting point may have been my fastest time of the whole Camino. I wanted to retrieve my glasses and return as quickly as possible, because my friend caring for the backpack would also find it very cold in short order. The uphill climb had made us warm even though it was a cool morning, staying for along period in the one place would be very uncomfortable.

I was successful in retrieving my eyeglasses and throughout that day as I was walking, I was reflecting on that return trip to the Albergue. I felt so light, it seemed as if I could fly. I had been carrying the backpack for about two weeks, it had become so much a part of me, I wasn’t aware of the weight until I was released from it. The lesson I learned from that experience related to life, my life. Most of my life I have been carrying this cumbersome load and it had become so much apart of me, I was not aware of it. In my backpack was fear, doubt, anxiety and a host of other unnecessary things, not a lot, but enough to weigh me down and stress my body with that extra weight. I was aware of those things before and had tried to rid myself of  them. That day I realized it was not what was in the backpack that I had to rid myself of, it was the backpack. That would mean a whole new approach to my journey of life with nothing weighing me down. That is the journey I am on and inviting you to take as well. I couldn’t take my backpack off, because there were things I thought I needed , but didn’t. Next post-The Backpack (part two.)

 

 

Reflections 2

I mentioned in reflections 1 that each week on my Camino trek I would take a day off, for additional rest and reflection on the past week. In this blog I’m following a similar pattern. The blog is about you, so as much as possible there is an avoidance to my own experiences in traveling the path of life, it is my path, and yours may be entirely different, at a different time, or at a different speed. The journey is very personal. It is a journey to know yourself. It then becomes easy to make the right decisions in your life and not have to “knock on wood” and hope it was the right decision. In my reflections, I am going to stray a little from that pattern and mention some of the personal aspects of my experiences.

Several pointers that I have found very effective for me, listen to other people. They may not have direction for you, but can definitely help you stay on your path or encourage you to keep going or in some instances challenge you to take a somewhat different path.

This week I  attended a memorial service for a friend that I met over thirty years ago. He passed away at the age of sixty. His life was not an easy path. For a good part of his life he was an alcoholic and lived a life that literally persecuted his body. Shortly after I met him, one morning, I will say morning, because it was 2 a.m., I got a call from him. He was at a Pizza place, and anything but sober. He wanted me to come and help him. I went and listened to what he was saying, the conversation, I am sure he was not aware of, but some of the things he said made perfect sense and helped me realize that we all have a higher power within us, if we will only listen. It may come from ourselves or another person. This particular incident gave me a full awareness, to never judge a person but listen to what is being said. That for me was a gold nugget that has helped and literally changed some of the direction I was traveling. If I were to describe this guy I would say, the most unforgettable character I ever met, he would disappear for a year or two and then reappear. The last ten years he did get victory over his drinking, he was a well-liked person, sometimes he could really try a person. He challenged me, without knowing it, to think differently, he was definitely a companion.

When I read a book that for some reason resonates with me, it is as if I know what is been said, even though I have not read the book before, this excites me. Sometimes things pose a question for me, what is been said, catches my attention, I will reason and commune with myself to find an answer. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert had a remark about “Soulmates” that caused me to look for an answer to that statement, it took a while but I got the answer for it. “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge had a chapter on love. I was able to articulate something about love, which in some ways I knew but yet didn’t. “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield , the book was published in 1993, I never read it until 2012, the nine key insights into life that he writes about, it was as if I already knew them, some of the insights for me, were not well developed, but I was on the same path, this encouraged me. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill made me angry. He talked about the secret, but didn’t tell me what it was, and I wanted to know, he challenged me. I have since found the answer, but no one could tell me, I had to find the answer for myself and it definitely is a secret. If a person finds the secret it is not because someone told them, The secret can only be experienced, and experiences are personal.

That is a sampling of the companions that have challenged, encouraged or caused me to search for the correct path and further me on my journey of life. No one had an answer for me, but in some small way or maybe a big way, put me on the journey I am on today. Through the years there have been so many people, instances, situations, heartbreaks and victories that have been my companions, some I have known, some I have not, but it was always what I gleaned from the situation that allowed me to better understand myself and be at peace with myself and those around me. The most significant, I am not covering in this post, it would be too extensive. It is my late wife Norma and our seven children and my present wife Sandra. This is who I have learned the most from, about myself, my responsibilities as a husband, a caregiver, a father and a lover, In my next posts I will bring to light some of the literal companions I met on the Camino and the life’s lesson learned from them.

The Eagle

The eagle is a beautiful and amazing bird, a bird with eye sight that is so much stronger than humans and an ability to fly higher than any other bird. Folklore says to align yourself with the eagle is to take on the opportunity and power to become so much more than you now appear to be. That is the purpose of this blog, to rise to a higher height than you are currently at. There is a story about the eagle that says after forty years, the normal life span of an eagle, it goes through a transformation. Its beak, feathers and talons become ingrown making it impossible to hunt. To further its life, involves shedding its beak, plucking out its talons and feathers and with a new beak, talons and feathers it can live another forty years. This process takes one hundred and fifty days. There is a dispute to the accuracy of this statement, but the point is the transition. If it is not so for an eagle, think of a caterpillar going through its metamorphosis to a beautiful butterfly. We can learn from nature, its amazing ability to recreate and transform itself into things of beauty and longevity.

In the previous post, “Three In One” there was an attempt to articulate on the fact that humans are complex, there is more to us than meets the eye. The “I” is what we rely on to guide “me” the physical body. This involves learning and you have to be always on your P’s and Q’s, so people like you, and consider you a good person. Then there is the “You” the higher person within everyone. That is the power to recreate us into a being that allows us to rise up like an eagle, with eyes that see more and ears that hear more, to reach higher heights than we ever thought possible. There is a transition involved, where the natural is to rely on the “I” to guide us, we can choose to have “you” give us the guidance. This involves old things passing away and new things taking its place. “You” becomes your strength and guide instead of “I.” This transition is accomplished in a way like metamorphosis. You choose “You” and let the work began.

One thing that we all have is the power to make a choice, and wither we think about it or not, every choice brings a consequence. It is wise to consider the cost of the choices that we make, but so often “I” leads us down paths that are dead ends, paths that cause pain and hurt to ourselves and others and if we have to backtrack, the going is rough and unfortunately many never find their way back. If you choose “you” to guide, it may seem like a dead end on times, but it is not. There will be hills and valleys, rain and sunshine but you will make it to a destination that gives peace, comfort and love.

At the start of this blog one thing that was emphasized, to go on this journey it is absolutely necessary that you be honest with yourself. In our society, blame is the norm when things are not working out or going the way they were intended. When there is blame, it is certain there is bitterness, fear and doubt. Give this some thought, “if you have the power of choice, how can you blame anyone for what is happening in your life.” Is it possible your choice has been and is “I?” This is limiting to a lonely life. When the choice is “you,” it’s all encompassing, and embraces everyone. When addessing your friends or anyone, think about it, it’s always “How are you?” The “you” is recognized in others. Why not in yourself? This blog is being written from my experiences thus far, the lesson-is to have the courage to relinquish stale and comfortable habits and beliefs and let the eagle within, soar to a whole new domain, Be patient with the present and know the future holds brave new possibilities, which you may not be able to see at first, but have faith, the eagle in you will take you higher than you ever thought possible, where you can see what your eye could never see. Next post “Reflections 2.”

3 In 1

I know, your first thought, some gadget that does three different things or three in one oil or some such thing. Sorry, it’s none of that. Look in the mirror, you are only aware of one, but I’m going to ask you to visualize something, then we will move it over to you. The doorbell rings, you answer the door and a courier is standing there with a beautiful wrapped gift, you are not sure who it’s from, but it is so beautifully wrapped, you are speechless. Now the big decision, shall I open it? Of course, you can’t wait to remove the beautiful wrapping paper, dive inside, find a carton, which you quickly open and find the present that an admirer has sent to you. For the moment you are flabbergasted that someone admires and thinks enough of you to send a gift. What is it? The paper is off, the carton is open and inside is a rough stone, at first you are disappointed, but wait there is a note with it and a picture, you look at the picture and you are amazed, it is a beautiful three carat diamond. The note says this rough stone, when it is cut and polished will look like the enclosed picture.

The journey that you are on is to get to know yourself and how unique and special you are. In the introduction to this blog, the promise was increased productivity, creativity, work/life balance, happiness, love, friends and most of all greater peace with yourself. Each post that is posted will have a gem, and hopefully you can glean your own gem from it, as you travel your path or Camino. When I walked the Camino in Spain, that was not the beginning of my journey, as I mentioned, my journey started in earnest seven years before, so I was becoming familiar with myself and who I could count on, yet there was some doubt, but that walk strengthened my faith in myself. You don’t have to go to Spain and walk the Camino, you are on a journey every day when you get out of bed.

I’m going to relate an incident that I experienced on the Camino in Spain, which has become more of a reality, which I use daily since returning. It was approximately two weeks into my journey, I had covered over four hundred kilometers. I left San Nicolas at 5 a.m. with the intent of walking forty kilometers that day, I was feeling good and thought it would be no problem. I arrived a Sahagun at the break of daylight. Entering Sahagun on my left was a four or five story hotel with a sign that said “Special rates for Pilgrims.” I saw the sign and wanted to stop, I have only walked five kilometers and I want to stop. I resisted the temptation and sort of wandered around Sahagun, feeling extremely tired, it was a cool morning but I was beginning to perspire and it was as if every bone in my body ached. I thought it may be exhaustion, I had been walking for sixteen days. I can’t go on, I have to quit. At this point it was necessary to commune with my Inner Self. It went like this, “you got me here, I can’t do this, you will have to do it for me.” I got back on the trail, walking very slow at first, gradually picking up speed. I walked forty kilometers that day and was less tired than when I left Sahagun earlier that morning, after walking a further thirty-five kilometers.

That experience confirmed, there was more to me than met the eye. I had experienced similar situations before and no doubt you have in your life, when you feel you can’t go on, or there is a situation that seems impossible, then you find you have a strength you didn’t realize you had and you get through it and your journey continues. I know now I have that strength all the time, I just wasn’t drawing from it. I was relying on my outer self. there is more to everyone than meets the eye.

Now, back up to that gift you received that you were able to visualize, now let’s move it over to you. The wrapping paper is your ego, the “I.” The carton the gift is in is “me” your physical body. The gift is “you” your Super Ego. That’s the three in one, although when you look in the mirror you are only aware of one. The gift will no doubt pose a question for you, why an uncut diamond, why not a diamond that is cut and polished. We rely on the wrapping paper most of the time, to move from I to you is a transition that takes time, we have to grow up in the Inner Self, this gift or present has to be cut and polished. I will expand on this transition in the next post. We don’t always rely on our Inner strength or out Super Ego, if it was given to us cut and polished, we would not appreciate it. We only appreciate and value what we have, when it comes at a cost. Next post “The Eagle.”

The Tomato Plant

Four weeks ago I planted tomato plants, because we only have a small backyard I planted them in a pot, three pots to be exact, three varieties. I have grown tomatoes before, but never in a pot. This was a whole new experience.

This morning I’m standing in the doorway looking at the tomato plant. I do enjoy seeing things grow, I have all my herbs planted around the patio and a few beans on the fence line. We were going to be at home this summer so it was an experience and a pleasure to watch those plants grow. As I was looking at the tomato plant, I could see it was going to be a success, flowers are forming on the plant, some of the flowers have already turned into tiny tomatoes. The plant leaves are lush and green, the plant is growing rapidly with the vine filling out all the way to the top with fruit stalks, it will be an abundant crop.

I’ve grown tomatoes before and was reminded that later on in the season this plant is going to be loaded with fruit. The downside of all this, the leaves are going to be yellow, some dropping off with the lush greenness gone. The plant will no longer have the rich green beauty it had earlier in the season, but it will have accomplished its’ purpose, providing our table with healthy food. Let’s consider nature for our teacher, it is an accurate reflection of what we can expect from ourselves, I think of how far we have strayed from what was meant for us and how little we understand our purpose.

The lush green leaves and the beauty of the plant is youth with all its’ vibrancy and looking forward to what life is going to be like and so wrapped up in how it looks. Many people later in life still want those lush green leaves but it is not to be. There are aches, pains and wrinkles and a feeling that life is almost over and the value has gone. But wait, we don’t look the way we did, but we have now reached the point that we can produce fruit in abundance. The first thought may be children, but children will eventually have their own life that may include a family of their own. The fruit that the stalk can produce is wisdom, which has come from the sunshine and rain that the plant experienced to bring forth that crop of fruit.

Unfortunately our society has reverted to a negative inward, rather than an outward way of thinking. Even in our workplace, opportunity rests with youth, the elderly are pensioned and that is their reward when in actual fact a senior has just reached the place where they can really produce a valuable crop to enhance our society. The youth don’t have the respect for the elderly, some will give lip service and appear to respect their elders, but society in general has written off the elderly.

Does the fault rest with the younger generation? No, the elderly, for the most part, have given up on themselves. We’ve been so conditioned to book learning, that we have forgotten about our experiences, the pain, the heartache, the dead-ends, the success, the failures, all of those wonderful things that have shaped and formed us  into who we are today. Seniors have so much to offer, but society does not recognize any of this. Knowledge has become king. All of the rain, sunshine and drought that has been endured to get to the point of being a senior is filed away in memory. The fruit of experience has no value, hence no desire to learn from it. Society, and seniors themselves, under estimate what a contribution they can make. Nature is our best teacher, we are part of nature, all be it, supposedly a wiser and greater contributor, but in actual fact we have become the destroyers of our environment with little or no respect for nature and what we can learn from it. Growth without effort is what we see all around us, the tomato plant will produce without a great amount of effort, letting nature unfold its purpose, but we have not learned from it and are paying the price. Rather than co-operating and learning from nature we are destroying it.

This weekend is Father’s Day, every father has a wealth of experience gleaned from the experiences of life. Indeed every person, whatever age, has experiences, those experiences are meant to grow us up. Life is not all sunshine, there is going to be rain. Remember rain makes the tomato plant grow, sunshine will solidify that growth. The purpose of this blog is to encourage you to garner the wealth of your experiences, good or bad, and encourage you to grow from them. Our experiences, is our truth, our reality, our common sense and the essence of our growing up in ourselves. We are the sum of our experiences, how you face those experiences will determine who you are and what you become.

Love

Everyone is looking for love in one way or another. Love can be very elusive, it can also be very painful, it can cause anger, disappointment and frustration. Is that love? What is love? Words many times are very ineffective and can even be deceptive. In the English language we have one word for love, “love” and this is all-encompassing. The Greek language is somewhat more descriptive, after all, it is a romance language. There are three words in Greek that better explain the depth of love, however we still have to go beyond that, which I shall expand on later. The three words are Eros, Phileo and Agape. Eros is the erotica side of love and centers around sex. It is the lowest form of love and centers around the base or animalistic side of human nature and is more embraced by the male species. Phileo is a higher form of love that centers on family and the commitments and responsibilities that go with it, this is the part more embraced by the female species.

With my grandparents and to a degree my parents, roles were clearly defined. This was traditional values. Today things are changing in our society. With the traditional model, men were the providers and women the homemakers. Now with most women in the workplace and being as much or in some instances more the provider, roles are overlapping. However, the woman is still the homemaker, or expected to be, but more men are taking on some of the homemaker responsibilities. What we are seeing is a merging of two physical aspects of love the Eros and Phileo. With the merging of the two aspects of love, one would think it would create much greater harmony. Is it? If we look at the number of divorces today, the answer would be in the negative. The argument against traditionalism and why couples stayed together, it was not love but responsibility to the relationship, now that doesn’t apply, we have a greater responsibility to ourselves and to a degree we do, but not in that concept.

This brings me to the third Greek word for love, Agape. This is the highest form of love, the higher energy within a person, your Inner Self and it comes down to knowing who you are. It will take you back to the blog posting, “The friend who will not let you down.” You will most likely agree the merging of the male and female aspects of love or the Eros and Phileo is not working based on the divorces we see today. Men are losing the traditional position of power they “perceived” to have had and women are clamouring for power. In actual fact the woman has always had the power and most were smart enough to let the man think he had the power. Remember Phileo love is stronger than Eros. Agape is the leveler.

There are two types of love, conditional and unconditional, Eros and Phileo is conditional, hence the reason for so many breakdowns or disagreements between the male and female. The female who most expresses the Phileo aspect of love is more unconditional in her love because of maternal instincts, but may neglect the husband. The male who leans more towards the Eros aspect of love and feels neglected may stray, if not in deed, possibly in thought. The Agape aspect of love is unconditional. The good part of Agape, it does not neglect the Eros and Phileo aspect, it respects and empowers both. The result is a level playing field between the male and female, with each knowing and enjoying their position. The man becomes monogamous and the strongest in the relationship through love. The woman feels secure and if there are children she can devote her time to the children and never neglect the husband. The sexual relationship is good for both parties, both are fulfilled and happy. This is part of the journey you have been invited on, getting to know yourself so love can bloom the way you want it too.

 

My Starting Point

My starting point on the Camino was St. Jean Pied-De-Port in France, this was the beginning of the French Way Camino. To complete the walk to Santiago De Compostela was eight hundred kilometers and on arrival in Santiago each person could register and receive a certificate of completion, on presentation of their stamped Pilgrim Credencial. You could began the walk in Pamplona, Burgos, Leon or the last place where you could start and obtain a certificate for having completed a recognized walk was Sarria, one hundred and fifteen kilometers before Sanitago. I met one lady in her eighties who was starting the walk at Sarria, her daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter, four generations, were walking it together, it was on her bucket list to walk the Camino and get a certificate of completion. The point I want to make is you can pick your starting point anywhere along the French Way Trail and if you walk at least one hundred kilometers and have your Credencial stamped at least twice a day you were rewarded with a certificate of completion.

Life is like that as well, we all have the same starting point, and we all have the same destination. Later in life and after a number of not too pleasant knockdowns, I began to think there was more to life than just work and the day to day trials that had to be dealt with. I began to think there was a road to follow that had some markings on it, like the Camino, which would get me to my destination with a much greater feeling of self-awareness, comfort and above all a lack of fear. Fear can be such an inhibitor and cause a person to make a wrong decision with the greatest of ease. The journey for me now, is much better marked, and keeps me from getting off the trail and following a dead end. At my age it is the equivalent of starting my life journey in earnest at Sarria, but a person does not have to wait until they are older where the ego does not have the same control it had.

Ah, the ego, that can be a problem. We have to rise above our ego, but oh!, that can be a problem, which is like rising above myself, I think that is impossible, it is and it is not! If you are familiar with Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde, Mister Hyde is the ego, a definite problem if not checked, Doctor Jekyll was the alter-ego, a reformed ego. Doctor Jekyll thought in many ways he was performing for society, he was well liked but it was a release to be Mister Hyde. One gave him freedom but couldnt be trusted, the other didn’t allow him freedom to be himself. Both gave him a problem.The answer is the Super-Ego, this allows us to rise above ourselves, but it is the Super-Ego that lifts us up, it is not our effort, it is our faith in the Super-Ego that lifts us. The Super-Ego is the Neuromodulator, that Inner-Self that gets us walking the correct Camino without fear of getting lost or going the wrong way.

It is possible to start that journey at any age, the destination is the same, but the journey is so much more relaxing and enjoyable. Things that were important become less important, things that were not important become more important. It is almost as if our eyesight improves and we began to see things we never saw before, the beauty of the world begins to shine forth making the journey pleasant, relaxing and, most important, without fear.

Reflections 1

While walking the Camino at the end or near the end of each week I would take a day off and check into a hotel. This gave me a room to myself and a bath to soak in, that was so refreshing and something to look forward to each week. It was also a time to reflect on the past week, the friends I had made, the different things and thoughts that I dealt with throughout the week, and a time to do some writing.

Now, after a number of blog postings and getting some feedback I want to clarify a few things. Several people have told me it was deep, I did not think it was, but after some thought I understand why the difference of opinion. I mentioned in one posting that there was a growing up, and that is definitely so. For example at one point I said you don’t have to be for or against. The first thought that would no doubt come to mind, you have to be for or against, you have to be one or the other, which is our normal way of thinking. It was fourteen years before I understood that, I had the words but the reality was a long time coming. My suggestion in the beginning was to think about what I am saying, that is all well and good, but you will find your thought process will change as you travel on this journey.

In the posting on the Pilgrim, the thought was, each one of us, on our earthly journey are Pilgrims, that means we are alone, but we need a friend, the posting on a friend brings home the reality of this journey, you have a opportunity to become a friend to yourself and that makes it easy to be friends with almost anyone, when you are a true friend to yourself. Also, in the post on Camino companions, I mentioned the five companions that were of great importance to me and helped me complete the journey. I want to be a companion for you as you do this journey of life.

There has to be a starting point for this growth to take place. Normally the neurotransmitter part of our brain rules how we think and act, it relies on our five senses, those are all external elements so it only gives us a perception of who we are, from how other people see us and what we learn. The neuromodulator part  of the brain kicks in when we experience romantic love or true love, which is a connection with our inner self. The first time I had this  experience was when I met my wife to be, I was fifteen years of age. That connection was not with her it was with myself, but I did not know it, so I gave her my heart and she gave me hers, this set up the groundwork for disagreement in our marriage. We had given the most important part of our life to each other, so in a way we were trying to retrieve what we had given each other. Instead of relying on the neuromodulator we changed to the neurotransmitter and from that point on there would be no growth in our true selves. We lived the final two weeks of my wife’s life with the neuromodulator controlling our relationship, even then I did not fully understand what had taken place, which came later and allows me to expand on this now.

I also said it is a faith journey, you rely on your experience, which is your truth. First you connect with yourself and when you do, it is necessary to stay with it, which is not as easy as it sounds. You saw what happened to me when I met my wife to be, it was forty-seven years later before I embarked on my Camino journey in earnest. That was why I told companions that I met on the Camino in Spain that I started my Camino in earnest seven years ago. What is taking place, we begin to change from neurotransmitter control to neuromodulator control. Old things pass away and all things become new, that is why the thought process becomes different. The important thing to remember, you will rely entirely on your Inner self or your neuromodulator to make the change, it is a growing of you and it is a faith journey. If you rely on the neuromodulator to grow you up, you will be comforted in your worst times, the walk is not based on circumstances. It is much more powerful than that.

A Friend Who Will Never Let You Down

On the home page of this blog a quote by Izaak Walton “Good Company in a journey makes the way seem shorter,” is very timely. On my Camino walk, while it was a solo walk, it was comforting to meet up with someone with a similar mindset as myself, regardless of language, custom or beliefs, we were on the same path going to the same destination. It was not uncommon to speak to a person and perhaps not see them again for a couple of weeks, then meet up and compare stories of the walk. There were others that I would see constantly and others I would walk with for a period of time, if our walking speed was similar, but everyone walked the path at their own speed. Those people were acquaintances with a common goal and destination, which was the bond, each were in a sense unknown to each other.

A friend is different, everyone needs a friend, it may be someone you have known for a long, or at least longer, period of time, or there seemed to be a chemistry or there was a common bond, it may have been work or some other commonality. But the question arises can I count on my Friend? Think for example marriage, when two people marry there is supposedly a lasting friendship, so much so they make a commitment to each other for life. How many marriages end in divorce? It is not uncommon to hear a person say, “We have remained friends,” but that may be more to accommodate one’s self, the divorce speaks louder than the words. A friend is a person you can count on, especially in difficult times. Until the difficult times come, it is difficult to know who your friends are. This quote by Warren G Harding, should make a person think “I have no trouble with my enemies, I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my god dammed friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at night!”

We are an energy field and that energy is more powerful than words. We so often rely on the words of a friend, yet energy is been drained from us. There are times when we come in contact with someone and we know the energy is been drained from us, we make an effort to extract ourselves from that situation as quickly as possible. When we hear the words we want to hear, we have a tendency to relax or let out guard down, it does not seem apparent that our energy is going, it may even be a day or two later before we recognize it and we may never recognize it. With the quote by Warren Harding and the content of this paragraph, it may make you skeptical of friends or simply dismiss what I said as b—s—.

Stay with me, when we think of a friend we think of a person apart from ourselves. That person is different from me, they always have things going on in their lives that I’m not aware of, making it difficult to be a true friend, then someone gets hurt or disappointed. The answer does not lie with someone else, it lies with ourselves. There is a proverb that says “a person that has friends must show themselves friendly and there is a friend that stays closer than a brother.” The person closer than a brother is myself, my Inner Self, what this blog is all about. When we become a friend to ourselves, we are never without a friend. When we become our own best friend than it is easy to be a friend and never get hurt or hurt others. I have realized I can hurt another person and not even be aware of it. When we are our own best friend, we never need a friend but always have a friend. The other exciting thing about this, I’m functioning within my own energy and don’t need anyone else’s, assuring that I can be a true friend. My Inner Self journey has been about knowing myself and finding that energy that no one can take from me. To be a friend supersedes having a friend. It does not come by affirmation it comes by revelation. That is the journey on this blog, a journey of revelation.

A Pilgrim

In previous posts I’ve mentioned “A Pilgrim” several times. This post is to take a look at pilgrim and how or why that affected me, or if indeed there was an aspect that fitted me. Webster’s Dictionary has two definitions. First is one who travels in foreign lands, wayfarer and the definition for wayfarer is a traveler especially on foot. Second is one who travels to a shrine or holy place as a devotee. While the Camino de Santiago has a long history that dates back many years before Christ. It has become known as the “Way of St James” for the past two thousand years, for many it has been and will be a pilgrimage to the Shrine of St James at The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

While traveling the Camino, I categorized the travelers into three groups, religious, spiritual and for others it was a holiday with some religious and or spiritual added in, but everyone was known as pilgrims.  I fitted both Webster definitions but not necessarily in the context that is understood. For me France and Spain were foreign lands and I was traveling on foot. I was traveling to a shrine or holy place and was more of a devotee than I realized at the time. I have found from experience in traveling my Camino in respect to life, some of the most profound things I’ve learned has come after the fact. This confirmed to me that I could know things without having to study, therefore I could not give credit to myself or my outer self or anyone else for that matter, and further confirmed there was more to me than met the eye.

Traditionally a pilgrim carried all their earthly belongings with them, I carried everything I needed for that journey in my backpack, so it involved laundry if I wanted something clean to wear each day. I had a reservation at Orisson in France, which was my first stop after Pied St Jean, after that there were no reservations. It allowed me the freedom to decide each day when and where I would stop. Life is like that, when we take freedoms, there is a cost, there were many times I did not count the cost or even consider it, most of the time that was to my detriment. The cost on this trip, which I learned after the third day on the trail, was not too difficult and did give me rewards. If I got on the trail between five and six a.m., I was ahead of many and I could stop between one and two p.m., this assured me a bed and usually a hot shower and gave me the afternoon in the town I was staying, to take in the sights and rest, not too difficult of a cost.

The foreign land I was traveling too, was myself. My knowledge of myself was what other people had to say about me, things I learned, which in most cases were other people’s truth, and while it may have been a companion to my knowing myself, it could not take the place of my journey. Most of the things along my life journey were without and when there was direction from within, I attributed it to someone or something. I could not accept the inner voice as being reliable and for the most part was a stranger, now looking back, I indeed was a stranger to myself. Some of that changed before going on the Camino, more changed on the Camino and continues since returning.

The second definition of traveling to a holy place, was again similar to the foreign land. Traveling to my inner self was and is my holy place. It was foreign to me because for most of my life I was taught and believed the outer self was responsible for the Inner Self. It has been slow in coming but I recognize now, it is a time of growth carried out by the Inner Self. The journey is allowing the Inner Self to direct the outer self. The Inner Self is the Devine of each and every human being and that included me. Hopefully, you can see the purpose of what I said, “I don’t have the answer but you do.” In the beginning of the blog I mentioned no one has your fingerprint or DNA, you are unique and special but like me you are a pilgrim. Next post-A Friend