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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

My Comino Companions

The English translation of the Spanish word “Camino” is path, way or journey. Life is a path, way or journey. Reflecting on the path from Pied St. Jean to Santiago de Compostela, in many ways it could be the way or path I traveled most of my life. There were wrong roads, backtracking, watching for the correct markers, trying not to get lost. It was adventurous but much better marked than my life road. One of the most asked questions by travelers on the Camino was, “Why are you walking the Camino?” My answer always was “I started walking my Camino in earnest, seven years ago.” I said in earnest, but my actual Camino walk began when I was born. That is when I began to rely on someone to guide me, no doubt the most significant were my parents. My life road depended on someone or something to guide me, so did my walk on the Comino but there was a vast difference.

My first companion was John Brierley’s book. As I mentioned in a previous post, it was interesting to a degree. While I walked the Camino it became a constant companion, information about towns I’m passing through, where to eat, where to sleep and telephone numbers for those places. It was a wealth of information for that day and for mapping out next day’s journey. It also gave directions on the trail I was walking, however, it could not take the place of the experience of the walk and was not meant to. The experience was realty and was my truth pertaining to the walk. The book was John Brierley’s experience that he researched, walked and wrote about, that was his truth. His truth was a help to me but I had to experience it myself, for it to become my truth.

My next companion was the trail marker, the Camino shell or the yellow arrow. It was necessary to be on a constant lookout for those markers, they were placed at regular intervals along the way. When I was walking for a period of time and never saw a marker, the thought would come to mind, “did I miss a marker, am I going the right way? Then a marker would appear and was comforting, that I’m on the right road. A couple of times I had to backtrack but nothing serious, The book was a help in that area as well.

My third companion was the other pilgrims. Walking through the larger towns and cities because of the number of signs, it was easy to miss a Camino marker, also for me the book could not give the specific directions I needed. Burgos caused me problems, I set out early in the morning, missed a marker and could not get the proper direction I needed from the book and had to back track twice. I met a couple from Argentina who were having the same problem. Our salvation, another pilgrim on the right trail, he was recognized by the backpack. (I will put faces to some of the pilgrims I met as I travel in the blog.) A fourth companion in Pamplona. As I was leaving the city, I made a left turn which took me off the trail, a lady from Pamplona recognized me by my backpack, and knew I was a pilgrim on the Camino, she ran after me and  pointed the correct way.

Those were my constant companions, one or the other, was always with me and kept me in “the Way” while walking the Camino. My life journey has not been as clear. I have taken many wrong roads, walked long distances to come to a dead end. I endeavoured learning my way along the pathway of life, but it didn’t work. I followed others who did not know the road, neither did I recognize those who knew the correct way. I missed markers that were given to me. Neither was I recognizable, so that others could set me on the correct road. My life experiences are my truths and have brought me to this point in my life. I now recognize some of the markers and the guide book which if I had know early in my life, would have taken me on a somewhat different trek. My destination will be the same, but the path would not have been strewn with so many obstacles and would have made it easier for others who were in “the way” with me.

 

My Camino

Last year I had the privilege of walking the French Way Camino from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. It was not on my bucket list or something I had considered or wanted to do. I knew very little about it, except a couple of years before I had watched the movie “The Way starring Martin Sheen.” I enjoyed the movie but never once considered walking “The Way.” It was as if I was being compelled to go , so much so, I did very little research, I did more after I returned. I bought a book by John Brierley entitled “A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago.” It was the pilgrim way known as Camino Frances. I read some of the book, but it never really registered for me. It was after I got on the trail, the book became a constant companion. It was an amazing trip. I guess I had some expectations on the walk, but it has had more of an impact since my return. Many things I better understand about myself since the Camino.

The first posts I have written, you may find difficult to understand, that does not alarm me. Remember I did say I don’t have the answer for you, but you have the answer for yourself. To find that answer can be somewhat evasive. My hope is to impart some gems that can aid you on a journey of self-understanding. My Camino walk was solo, but I met many people that had the same destination as me, we were encouraged and challenged by each other. Most of the next posts will expound on my personal journey and hopefully it can encourage and challenge you. There are things excepted in our society that we are familiar with, the thought never enters our mind to question, yet many of those things lead us away from our true self. There are disappointments, doubts, fear and anxieties that constantly plague us, or it did me. I never questioned those things, it was so much a part of my life, or I was so busy, it never garnered a thought of anything different.

My Camino walk will be woven into aspects of my life and where it is today. I am seventy-three years young, I don’t consider myself old, although the body does show some signs of wear. It is thought that as a person gets older things are different, they are, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In our younger years when we have a family and so many responsibilities is where we could appreciate somewhat of a reprieve. What I considered normal and as far as society goes is normal, caused me much self-inflicted grief. When I say self-inflicted grief it was because I choose to follow what was the norm, so can I blame anyone? No!

I embarked on this trek with no real understanding of what lay ahead. I’m going through two countries that speak French and Spanish, I speak English. I’ve never back-packed before, never done a long hike, never stayed in a hostel, and was never in  Spain before. Everything is unknown, similar to how my life started many years ago. With all the unknowns, there was no fear or anxiety, more of an anticipation. I’m traveling eight hundred kilometers to an unknown destination and with no map. Three things kept me on the right trail. First I had the Camino book which did outline the trail, second was the Camino shell or yellow arrow that pointed the path to follow and third were fellow hikers. Those were my Camino companions. Next post–My Camino companions.

What Is Truth?

A valid question, don’t you think? The answers will vary, but this is not about others, but you. It was something I pondered for a long time searching different avenues until it finally hit home. In asking that question it may take you along different roads, it did me. For me that changed everything, I realized, it can’t be learned. This may explain why I have said I don’t have the answer but you do.

There was much for me to ponder before writing this blog. The desire has been there for some time, but the timing was not right. Much of my life was building businesses or doing a business turn around, this was exciting and to a degree rewarding. It was many years ago I realized that people built businesses, businesses didn’t build people. It is difficult to not become what we do, I did, but getting out of that conundrum was easier said than done. My greatest desire was to build people not business, which took me on a different journey, then back to business again.

My desire was to help people, if I were to be honest with people it was necessary to look in the mirror and be honest with that person, it was necessary to know that person. In my introduction a mention was made of being honest with yourself, which is not as easy as it sounds. To be honest with others was so much easier. Truth is necessary, if you can’t learn it, what is the purpose in writing anything, this was my conundrum and was for a long time. It was necessary that I fully understood myself before anything was written or I would be “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,” just noise.

Another bridge to cross or obstacle to overcome, again about being honest with myself. If I do something for another person or give them some gem and it makes me feel good. Is that not more for myself than the other person? It was so easy to rationalize in my favor, but not only is there a responsibility for actions but also thoughts. I was never against learning, but it had to be for practical purposes or as far as I was concerned it was a waste of time, that was not right, it may have been for me, but not some others. Judgement was another thing to deal with. If there was any judging to be done it had to be of myself, not someone else. I could be always learning and never able to find truth, it would be truth that was going to set me free.

It seemed to be slow in coming, but eventually the realization began to dawn on me that I was a diamond in the ruff. There was much more to me than met the eye. What met the eye was the natural, the supernatural was in me. This would be a faith journey, growing up in the supernatural gave me a different perspective on myself and others. At first I thought I could learn everything that was necessary to help others, boy did I fail, even with my own children. You may have heard “talk is cheap,” it is. Children talk, adults walk, is the way it should be. My next realization was I had to grow up in the spiritual or supernatural realm, just as I had grown in the natural realm. My truth was my experiences on my spiritual walk. Experiences involve the heart and brain, which gives it life. Learning involves the brain without heart, there is no life. It leaves a person mechanical or professional, life is in the heart. That realization was slow in coming and is still a work in progress, the destination of my spiritual walk is Truth.

The realization of being a diamond in the ruff also opened the door for me to realize, so is everyone. It came down to choice, understanding choice for myself allowed me to see the same was true for everyone else. We all live with our choices. My truth has been my experiences on that spiritual or supernatural walk. Another light bulb went on after an understanding of choice, it took away blame. After the realization of choice, I could no longer blame anyone or anything. Every choice brings a consequence and whatever the consequence, good or bad, it was the result of my choice and so it is for everyone.

Next posting–My Camino

The Uniqueness Of This Journey

My reason for writing about a mindset and cloning and asking you to think about what this blog is saying or what is said by anyone, is to encourage you to use the brain. That involves thinking through what is said. That is not the norm in our society. The norm is to rely on our mind and what we have learned and it certainly was with me. My first tendency was to take verbatim what I was reading or heard or observed and over time that gave me a judgemental attitude. If I agreed  that was fine, if I disagreed that was fine. The problem was I stayed in the same place, so literally speaking I was brain washed. It took some doing to get pass that, which is where meditation came in.

For me this involved an early morning walk in a nature setting, if possible, communing with myself. It was listening to silence. Initially I was surprised by what I began to know. This journey that you are invited on is a spiritual one. Stop! Before you categorize this statement and associate it with organized religion, at least allow yourself to think about that statement! It has nothing to do with organized religion, it is about you and getting to know you and being able to commune with yourself and much more effectively with those around you. So much of society associates spirituality with organized religion. One segment of society embraces and another segment of society rejects everything relating to religion. In a previous post, it was stressed that freedom was not being for or against. This is one time where that will benefit you.

This is not a Peter Pan journey, where “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust.” Faith and trust definitely will be part of that journey, not much pixie dust though. Many will say, “I don’t have faith.” You can’t see the air you breathe, ever doubt it is there? Faith is not something you learn, it is an experience. This should help you realize it is about you. Faith is not blind, when you experience something, it is real to you and that is what counts.

I have gleaned gems from well-educated people from people with very little or no formal education, people associated with religion,or people that have no time for religion. Something is said that tweaks my interest and may be a conversation with myself for a day or two, to know how it applies to me. The same goes for books. My greatest excitement is to read and know what is printed, having experienced it before reading. The book may be spiritual or about science, and I believe there is an amazing correlation between the two. Just as we grow in the physical or natural realm, we also have to grow in the spiritual realm. Another definition for spiritual is “supernatural.” The more you experience your inner spirit or the supernatural, the less you will rely on the natural, and it is so much more powerful. The supernatural is the real you, the natural is only a perception. It is all you have learned from your five senses, which are all external and apart from you.

–next post “What is Truth?

 

 

Cloned

The first thought was to title this writing “mindsets” however as you can see “cloned” won the day. Both have much in common, my purpose of choosing this topic, as actually my first topic after the introduction, had a very definite purpose.

You are a very unique person, there is no one with your DNA or your finger print, that is how special you are. There are many days we do not feel that special or unique, but we are! It has taken me a long time to come that realization and mostly because of my mindset and what we shall call the societal mindset. Where does that societal mindset come from? It basically comes from anything that interacts with our five senses and that starts at a very early age. It does not take long before a child will begin to try and set the ground rules to be their own person by acting out or throwing a tantrum. Immediately the training begins on what is right and what is wrong and on it goes. This continues, sometimes it is not verbal, most times it is about who or what we are that speaks much louder then what we say. I have come to realize that my children were more influenced by what I did then what I said.

Different elements of society, either implied or otherwise are always directing us to what or who we should be, how we should act or not act, what we should do or not do. If we are conscientious and want to do right there are so many things or people that we can turn to, that will show us or help us to be a better person, how to be a contented person, how to get our act together. On the opposite end of the same plateau is the rejection of those things, to maintain our independence. That will not cut it, to be against something or someone is to be controlled, negatively. Control is the key word. That creates somewhat of an oxymoron, and a valid question. How do I not be controlled by a person or situation, I have to be either for or against. Not necessarily, you can be not for or against, that is freedom.

My desire is not to give direction or even encourage you to take direction from  anything written in this blog. Your natural thought is to say, “then what is the purpose of what you write?” My sole purpose is to challenge you to think about what is said. This is my journey, or my experiences that I am relating too, that is my truth. When I said I don’t have the answer, but you do, that was not meant as a catch phrase or something to attract your attention. It is a reality for me. If you agree with what I say without giving it much thought, without realizing it you are been cloned. If you reject what is written in this blog without giving it much thought, you are already cloned.

 

 

Introduction

My desire, is that you might glean something from this blog that will enhance your life. The blog expands somewhat on my personal journey, it can be generic with many people, it has the ability to increase your productivity, creativity, work-life balance, happiness, love, friends and most of all greater peace with one’s self.

On this blog you are invited to take a journey, not with me, but a journey with yourself. This can be exciting and revealing. It will require honesty and forgiveness, that is not the norm when dealing with yourself, but it is imperative to do so, to receive the benefits you are looking for.

The tag line challenges you to be your own life coach, that is not a fancy statement to catch your attention. It is about you and only you. Myself, or no one else has the answer to a fuller life for you, but you do.

My writings have not been gleaned from academia, but rather my life experiences. It is a journey I have taken. The hills I climbed, the valley’s I experienced, the storms, the calms, all part of this exciting journey called life. Every experience, good and bad, had a purpose that helped or guided me to what I call a sweet spot in my life. The same can be for you, but no one can experience it for you, just as no one could experience my journey for me.