In a recent post, in reference to a question I asked about my old walking stick, someone answered me by saying: “…as for the walking sticks-unless you are a senior citizen and unsteady on your feet why bother?” This really got me thinking, and all I have to say is, it does not necessarily have anything to do with age or your physical ability. I used a walking stick on my first camino and I liked it so much I am thinking of taking it with me on my next one in 10 days. Here are some reasons to use a walking stick: USES FOR A WALKING STICK: 1.Identifies you immediately as a pilgrim 2.Can hang your jacket on it at night (or wet clothes) 3.Gives your upper back a stretch as you’re walking (reach back behind your neck) 4.Great for shooing bugs away 5.To shoo dogs away (although this doesn’t happen often) 6.Balances your weight as you’re walking – (especially if you have blisters) 7.Helps especially going up and going down a steep hill –easier on the knees 8.Creative way to pass things to people (ex: while you’re in one bunk and your friend is in another and you don’t want to get out of your sleeping bag. Hee hee) 9.The melodic sound it makes as it taps the ground can become soothing and meditative during certain times, like the walk through the Meseta, or times when you’re walking alone for really long stretches 10.Great for playing games like swashbuckling or the limbo – yes, this can be fun when you’re on the camino! 11.Very useful when coming upon a candy wrapper that someone has thoughtlessly thrown onto the path- use it to pick up and put into trash can nearby. 12.Comes in very handy if you’re walking through a stream or river and you want to know how deep the water is before you take your next step 13.Same concept when it’s been raining for a long time and you’re ankle deep in thick mud. Helps keep you from slipping. 14.Believe it or not, after using one 500 miles – especially if you found it along the way, or someone gave it to you, or someone made it special for you by carving out your name, it becomes very special to you – it becomes a friend. You may even take it home with you to remind yourself every day of your personal success. 15.Last but not least, it is part of the original custom – pilgrims carried four traditional items: a hat with a scallop on the front, a walking stick with a gourd attached, a bottle to hold water and a leather purse. If it’s good enough for St. James, then it’s good enough for me. Please feel free to add anything you can think of! Buen Camino!