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Walking a Camino is a Very Selfish Act - Isn't it?

2020 Camino Guides

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Eeyore is a bit glum yet he is my favourite character in the Hundred Acre Wood.

The camino could be seen as an opportunity to recharge so that you can (as in, are able to) invest energy in others the rest of the time.

Yes, I think the camino is a pretty selfish time & space - but so be it. Hopefully we are not selfish -in the sense of hogging resources and not sharing - in the course of the camino.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Walking a Camino is absolutely a selfish act. People try to rationalize it, but really whatever your motivation for the Camino you do expect something back.

It makes me uncomfortable when people tell me that I'm "amazing" for walking 800+ km. No, I'm not. I'm just doing what I love to do.
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (crossed Pyrenees then Sarria to SdC) 2018, Frances & Ingles Summer, 2019.
The Camino can be a religious experience, or a self fulfilling spiritual one (or just a plain walkabout). Regardless, it IS selfish. But, that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, though, one must do something for one's own sake.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
The Camino can be a religious experience, or a self fulfilling spiritual one (or just a plain walkabout). Regardless, it IS selfish. But, that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes, though, one must do something for one's own sake.
Absolutely, and the people who live along the Camino benefit from our passing through. Just don't try to tell me that doing the Camino is some sort of noble, altruistic endeavor.
 

Jan_D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones (2011)
Frances (2012)
Norte (2013, 2014)
Hospitalera (2014)
Portugues (2017)
I'm not sure "selfish" is the right word - it has such negative connotations (greedy, egotistical, lacking of concern for others, self-obsessed, etc). It's only one extreme of the spectrum - with selflessness/self-denial at the other. We tend to think of the latter as a virtue, but actually, as Aristotle might say, virtue involves finding the middle way between extremes. I think the camino provides a great opportunity to find this balance. It can be a self-empowering experience, or it can be very humbling - depending on what one needs.
 

zenofmatthew

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
The dimensions of
length and breadth are now unplanned,
depth and time are cast.
Life is comprised of many choices. If you're depriving your family, your people of their basic needs you've crossed the line into selfishness. Would you let them go do something like this? If yes, then your still on the good side of the line.

One spouse says wear black shoes. One says wear brown. You could be completely selfish and wear your choice. Or unselfish, making them happy, giving them the selfish pleasure of seeing their choice being worn. Or the worst, forgo their happiness and yours by compromising and wearing one shoe of each.*

Seeing a parent/child/comrade fulfilled, doing what they want to do, being who they want to be, that should be our unselfish goal. In this case, we are that child, that parent, that comrade.

**full disclosure-My wife does some vacations on her own, too. No kids either. She wants to have fun with no stress. They rest of the time we travel as a pack. Seeing their mom/dad come home relaxed and refreshed is worth it.

*In this world of tuxedoes, I'm a beautiful brown leather loafer.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Thanks for your thinking out loud. Don’t stop doing that! I read the following on @malingerer , posted by @justpassinthrough, and am making a connection...
 

Anamya

Keeping it simple
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Portugues (2017)
Lebaniego (2019)
Robo, I could not disagree more (which is so rare when I read your posts!), and I'm so happy @Jan_D was able to explain it, because I was not finding the words.

Just asking, if you had nothing to feel guilt about, would you still call it selfish?
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Great post - not a ramble, more of a meditation .... Robo, you were 22 years in the military so you know that in battle conditions no soldier can just carry on, they need regular down-time, R&R, or their abilities degrade severely.
Isn't a working life the same? Busy busy busy, stress, year after year after year - surely everyone eventually wakes up at 3 in the morning and ponders what is going on and how meaningless such an existence can be? - so, sure, we need downtime, R&R - and if the Camino fits then that is the place to go, especially (and only!) if one travels alone (initially) and switches off contact with the world left behind and immerses oneself -

So, is it selfish? well yes if it is to do with abandoning people .. but if it is to do with down-time, to come back batteries fully recharged and possibly a new view on one's life situation, then surely it isn't.

Life - this utter miracle that we are here - is SO much more than being in a factory making cardboard boxes all day for decades ... and whether worker or owner all jobs become essentially that unless one is lucky enough to have a vocation of some sort ...

The chance to daydream, to amble, to think, to not think, to laugh, to cry ..... what could be finer for a human??

Just my point of view
 
Last edited:

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
I discussed this with a friend and concluded that the camino that I walked was self-indulgent, but not selfish.

If you "desert" people or "abandon" them to deal with things that they can't handle without you ... I'd consider it selfish. But if you work yourself to the bone and damage your health, you're precipitating the day that the people you care about will have to deal with things without you. Far better to set things up so that you can take a break - Prepare properly to ensure that your dependents are cared for and your colleagues have the authority and ability to manage in your absence. This shouldn't be called selfish. If we don't take care of ourselves, how can we take care of others?
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Robo, I could not disagree more (which is so rare when I read your posts!), and I'm so happy @Jan_D was able to explain it, because I was not finding the words.

Just asking, if you had nothing to feel guilt about, would you still call it selfish?
No, not at all. I think it's our obligations to others that creates that.
 

Turga

Camino tortuga
Camino(s) past & future
CF (Aug/Sep 2017)
CF (Aug/Sep 2018)
A very difficult subject; the concept of ’selfishness’ is not an absolute. What may initially appear as a selfish act could turn out as ‘selflessness’. As has been indicated by others, sometimes you need to look after yourself first. For instance the safety instructions on planes advices you to take care of yourself first in case the cabin pressure drops and the oxygen masks are released before attempting to help others.

In 1976 biology professor Richard Dawkins published the book “The selfish gene” in which he argues, that ‘selfishness’ is an essential part of our survival strategy and is coded into our genes. I don’t think this has ever been verified so perhaps it’s just a convenient explanation.

Anyway, if walking a Camino is what gives you energy and ‘surplus’ to care for and help others, then that’s not so bad?
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese
(2019) VdP Seville to Salamanca
(2020) VdP Salamanca to Santiago
The Camino is selfish in the same way that meditation is selfish. They both force you to concentrate on yourself and, as much as possible, block out all other external "noise". You re forced to reduce your world to just what matters (in most cases - your feet :) )

We are social animals but require time apart to make sure that we are doing both what we want to do and what we need to do.

After walking over 1000 miles of Caminos, I have become more focused in general. Yes, I was/am blessed and privileged to be able to have the time, money, and health to do so and I appreciate that.
 

peterbells

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept 2018 (Sarria to Santiago), repeating Sept 2019
When I said I was doing my first Camino I was asked if I was looking for sponsorship (ie for a charity) or if I was doing it just for myself. My answer was the latter and did not consider that to be selfish at all. A pilgrimage is a personal thing.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Like for me in 2013, your first Camino radically changed your entire life and your outlook on many things. I suspect the yearning for 'me time' to be alone with your private thoughts, mediations, and prayers is overwhelming. I share this need. It can only be addressed to a minimal degree while home.

Most of us here who are repeat 'offenders' likely totally get your flow of consciousness. I could have written much of it myself. From family responsibilities, elder care issues, business or financial concerns, and nagging self doubts about the future, etc., I rather suspect that we have all been there, done that, to a certain degree.

Just as every pilgrim does their own Camino, the benefits and longer term effects of doing a proper Camino (e.g., a month or more at a go), are singular and unique to each individual. While there are common themes, my experience personally, and working with other pilgrims at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago teaches me that individual reactions and the personal effects and knock-on consequences of doing a Camino are different for each person.

For me, my mind, heart and soul crave being either on Camino, actually walking towards Santiago, or at Santiago helping others. When I am not doing those activities, I am researching and learning. I plan my next Camino, while spending about two-hours daily here in the Forum trying to help others.

I also continue to practice my Spanish, using Duolingo.com for an hour or so each day. For nearly 700 consecutive days, this has been my personal routine. When I am aware from home and my computer I have the Duolingo app on my iPhone. It keeps me sane, focused, and motivated into the future. It also helps make me more useful to others when I am next in Spain.

I do not feel guilty about enjoying this, my hobby and avocation in retirement. I worked for more than 40 years, putting my personal needs and desires on the backburner to devote my energies to my career, my country, and my family.

In the years since I retired, finding the Camino de Santiago and becoming involved to the degree I have, has literally changed my life. In previous decades, my focus was on the self and primarily on getting ahead.

Now that my future is HERE, I am blessed to have the wherewithal to focus on contributing to community, my colleagues in the Camino, my faith and my eternal future. These considerations were too frequently relegated to the backburner during my career and younger years. But now, I can refocus my energies and motivation in the second part of my life to build community vis-a-vis the Camino de Santiago and to help others.

I so totally understand your post...

Hope this helps.
 

Faye Walker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
My mother's health is declining but not critical yet... My young adult child is in the process of needing less from me (and we have modern telecom ways to stay in touch for advising issues that may arise). Spouse is staying home this time while I go on a relatively short camino of 24 days... It seems like an opportune moment at the end of a sabbatical year just before I go back to regular work duties in January.

Yet, because aside from these travels I have not been accustomed to refuelling myself and have always otherwise made certain that my travels were tied to my work, I can feel quite conflicted about taking what is, for me, a pure retreat from my usual world.

I do feel the gnawing idea that it is selfish, and that I will be in some way punished for taking the opportunity.

I'm just Catholic enough for that dynamic to persist even though I've not been to any mass except for a funeral or a wedding in over 35 years...

I sort of wish that one could still seek the blessing of one's priest to take one's leave for a camino. I doubt that the early pilgrims who had to acquire that blessing struggled with this conflict...
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives.
Maybe that's not quite the right question. Perhaps it is more, "How much can we live the lives of others for them?" To which the answer is, not at all. We can help; but we cannot do everything for them, nor take on the responsibility for doing that. Teaching them to fish is so much better than trying to do the fishing for them. Your absence is an encouragement to them to develop their own skills and resources. Otherwise, your business is not sustainable.
And maybe the posting title question is more about self-care. If we don't keep ourselves afloat, then both family and business fail.
( @Robo : 21 year Navy veteran speaking)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Le Puy (2016)
Vézelay (2019)
Norte (2019)
Kia Ora @Robo
Yes.
It is about as selfish as it gets.
But where else do you get the time, the headspace to focus on You?
I found that although I pretended it was all about self improvement, I actually had to commit to certain reflective routines during the day or any benefit could have been small or even absent.
But also, how can you focus on for instance tolerance or patience, when stuff is coming at you right and left and you have no time to process your reactions and ponder alternatives?
How can you cogitate on life’s priorities when you are dealing with budgets and deadlines, rather than exhaustion, cold and thirst?
Where do you get the chance to talk to yourself in a calm respectful voice and be able listen patiently to the answers?
And I fancy also that my selfish act will in the end benefit my family and friends as well. Perhaps it already has?
I had already commented to friends that my long solo Camino was the most selfish thing I had ever done. Of that I was sure. What I was less sure of was the benefit to myself and others. I’m sure of that now. That’s how the Camino works it’s magic.
And yes, it was fun and beautiful and exhilarating. And renewing.
Thanks for commencing this thread.
Indulge yourself selfishly.
John
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I sort of wish that one could still seek the blessing of one's priest to take one's leave for a camino. I doubt that the early pilgrims who had to acquire that blessing struggled with this conflict...
When I arrived in SJPDP for my first Camino I asked for a credencial and was refused. One of the reasons given was that I had not brought a letter of introduction from my parish priest. Although things have clearly moved on from that if your priest's blessing would be of value to you personally I can think of no good reason in principle why you should not still ask for and receive it.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I'm not sure "selfish" is the right word - it has such negative connotations (greedy, egotistical, lacking of concern for others, self-obsessed, etc). It's only one extreme of the spectrum - with selflessness/self-denial at the other. We tend to think of the latter as a virtue, but actually, as Aristotle might say, virtue involves finding the middle way between extremes. I think the camino provides a great opportunity to find this balance. It can be a self-empowering experience, or it can be very humbling - depending on what one needs.
I think you are correct about finding balance. For many years I struggled to find that. I read a book a friend gave me by Osho. I know this man's life was full on contradictions and some of his followers did some pretty horrific things. (Great 5 or 6 part documentary on Netflix about this) But his books are filled with some good things to learn. He wrote extensively about being completely selfish. He said that you can't truly love unless you are completely selfish. I thought on the surface this sounded crazy and ridiculous. But the more I read it was so simple and made complete sense. You have to always think of yourself first in order to raise your consciousness and understanding of self. Only in this way can you really love without judgements and without expectations of receiving love back. This is a really condensed version to say the least on this subject. It is our own judgements about the definition of selfishness that in the realm of something like walking on the Camino that gives it a negative connotation. Hope this isn't too much gobbily goop.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
My mother's health is declining but not critical yet... My young adult child is in the process of needing less from me (and we have modern telecom ways to stay in touch for advising issues that may arise). Spouse is staying home this time while I go on a relatively short camino of 24 days... It seems like an opportune moment at the end of a sabbatical year just before I go back to regular work duties in January.

Yet, because aside from these travels I have not been accustomed to refuelling myself and have always otherwise made certain that my travels were tied to my work, I can feel quite conflicted about taking what is, for me, a pure retreat from my usual world.

I do feel the gnawing idea that it is selfish, and that I will be in some way punished for taking the opportunity.

I'm just Catholic enough for that dynamic to persist even though I've not been to any mass except for a funeral or a wedding in over 35 years...

I sort of wish that one could still seek the blessing of one's priest to take one's leave for a camino. I doubt that the early pilgrims who had to acquire that blessing struggled with this conflict...
If tha... finda
My mother's health is declining but not critical yet... My young adult child is in the process of needing less from me (and we have modern telecom ways to stay in touch for advising issues that may arise). Spouse is staying home this time while I go on a relatively short camino of 24 days... It seems like an opportune moment at the end of a sabbatical year just before I go back to regular work duties in January.

Yet, because aside from these travels I have not been accustomed to refuelling myself and have always otherwise made certain that my travels were tied to my work, I can feel quite conflicted about taking what is, for me, a pure retreat from my usual world.

I do feel the gnawing idea that it is selfish, and that I will be in some way punished for taking the opportunity.

I'm just Catholic enough for that dynamic to persist even though I've not been to any mass except for a funeral or a wedding in over 35 years...

I sort of wish that one could still seek the blessing of one's priest to take one's leave for a camino. I doubt that the early pilgrims who had to acquire that blessing struggled with this conflict...
if that is your wish: go find a priest who will do just that: bless you on your way. No reason under the sun for you not to, if that would give you a peaceful start. Buen camino. And selfish? Forget that! If it brings you home to yourself and those you love dearly, tell me true, is that selfish???
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
I think we hold on to what we all think we want and need to do and the often times unrelenting pressures this life gives us as opposed to discovering what we really need. Like the saying goes the Camino gives you what you need not what you want. Your situation was different than mine of course. I can tell you that pressures, economic realities and judgements are beating so many of us down. Eight years ago I was at the top of my earning potential, realizing that in a few years I wold have no economic retirement worries, I had two kids in college that had been properly planned for, owned my own house outright. The only problem was that I woke up each morning absolutely miserable and hating my life because of work. One day I quit my job and said enough I can't do this. People were shocked. By boss up until my exit interview on a conference call and even during the exit interview was telling me to reconsider. After the interview I tool a long walk petrified about what I was going to do and how much I knew my life would be altered. Each day I walked and each day after a while I still didn't have a clue to what would be next but I felt better. Than the Camino started calling me in my heart and head. I walked and was hooked. Now I live in Mexico. I live on about 45% of what I thought I was going to have for my retirement. I have a much better relationship with my daughters and I am happier. Not gleeful but happier. I did a completely selfish thing that freaked my friends and especially my daughters out. But my relationship with them is better than it has been in years. I am doing more of the things I need to do and in 10 days I get on a plane for Camino 5. Remember sometimes you just have to say F#$K IT!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I think we hold on to what we all think we want and need to do and the often times unrelenting pressures this life gives us as opposed to discovering what we really need. Like the saying goes the Camino gives you what you need not what you want. Your situation was different than mine of course. I can tell you that pressures, economic realities and judgements are beating so many of us down. Eight years ago I was at the top of my earning potential, realizing that in a few years I wold have no economic retirement worries, I had two kids in college that had been properly planned for, owned my own house outright. The only problem was that I woke up each morning absolutely miserable and hating my life because of work. One day I quit my job and said enough I can't do this. People were shocked. By boss up until my exit interview on a conference call and even during the exit interview was telling me to reconsider. After the interview I tool a long walk petrified about what I was going to do and how much I knew my life would be altered. Each day I walked and each day after a while I still didn't have a clue to what would be next but I felt better. Than the Camino started calling me in my heart and head. I walked and was hooked. Now I live in Mexico. I live on about 45% of what I thought I was going to have for my retirement. I have a much better relationship with my daughters and I am happier. Not gleeful but happier. I did a completely selfish thing that freaked my friends and especially my daughters out. But my relationship with them is better than it has been in years. I am doing more of the things I need to do and in 10 days I get on a plane for Camino 5. Remember sometimes you just have to say F#$K IT!
Whatever about the asterisked word - I admire you for your courage, and wish you the best of times, and a truly buen camino!
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Perhaps it would be better to just be incredibly grateful that we have had the opportunity to walk the Camino, an ancient route of pilgrims souls of every kind; so our spirit may be joined in some way with those who have been before us, those that are with us (or supported by us or support us in our journey) and those that are to come.

We can payback some of that gratitude in many ways, but not by feeling guilty or selfish. If anyone does feel really guilty, then there are several options to make amends- just don't leave it to late and regret not having done it.

Just my thoughts after reading your post and several other replies - all of which provide equally valid points of view, and make for fascinating and thought provoking reading, thank you.
 

Henry B

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016
You give of yourself to others on the Camino sometimes unwittingly. Particularly on a solo walk. Others give of themselves to you. Less selfish and more selfless than we might ever appreciate.
Buen Camino
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
My first Camino followed a 3-year period that was exceptionally hard for me; for 30 of 36 months I lived and worked on a floating tin can with 2700 guests and 800 crew, usually working 11-13 hours per day 7 days a week. I was so stressed and burnt out I had lost who I was and truly, I was good for no one, family, employer or myself. Walking the Camino let me reset myself in solitude and find myself again. By the time I reached SdC I believe I had found a better version of myself than I had ever had. Selfish? No, I don’t think so. Life is hard and some times we all need to step off the merri-go-round to rejuvenate ourselves so when we get back on we are the person that we need to be for all those around us.
 
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
Great post, @Robo ! And, I think, NOT selfish...

On my first Camino, I was in Muxia when another pilg asked when & where I started. Upon hearing SJPP and 6 weeks back, I got a very stern "How self-indulgent of you!"

All I could think to say in reply was, "You know how in airplane safety briefings they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first? Well, that's what I am doing. Everybody back home is looking forward to my being refreshed from this after 42 years of non-stop working." [Edit: I see @Turga had the very same thought!]

In mere moments, I was alone.

Don't second-guess your character for having done the right thing.

B
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
On my first Camino, I was in Muxia when another pilg asked when & where I started. Upon hearing SJPP and 6 weeks back, I got a very stern "How self-indulgent of you!"

All I could think to say in reply was, "You know how in airplane safety briefings they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first? Well, that's what I am doing. Everybody back home is looking forward to my being refreshed from this after 42 years of non-stop working."
A couple of years ago my wife made what will probably be the outstanding journey of a lifetime: overland from the UK to visit family in Thailand and China, then returning overland via China, Korea, Japan and Russia with many stops along the way. Including walking the Shikoku pilgrimage circuit. Also visits to friends made over the internet through her various personal interests. She was away for almost 10 months in total. Self-indulgent? Certainly. Resented? Not in the slightest. Deserved? Definitely. I know that relationships vary enormously but I do not think that ours would be strengthened by being possessive and restrictive of each other's movements. We try to support each other in the things which we find important. Which are not always the same and are often not experienced together.
 
Last edited:

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Methinks we are playing with denotations/connotations of 'selfish'. In this era of marketing and spin that has become so very common. Being trained as an engineer, I am overly attached to literal-ism--ie denote.
If you go to dictionary (only googled for this) "of a person, action, or motive lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure. "
I think for most of us, the Camino is healthy self-interest. I'll go with the airline oxygen analogy. For most, a camino walk is just showing good boundaries.
IMO, democracy, free market economics, and good interpersonal relationship all depend upon 'healthy self interest"
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
@faye "I sort of wish that one could still seek the blessing of one's priest to take one's leave for a camino. I doubt that the early pilgrims who had to acquire that blessing struggled with this conflict... "

You can!! Take your shell and passport and your local catholic priest - even if he doesn't know you - would be super-pleased to bless you on your pilgrimage ... why not start going to that church and maybe arrange to visit your priest when all kitted out and loaded up and just on your way??
 
Camino(s) past & future
Ponferrada - Santiago (2013)
Porto to Santiago (2015)
Lugo to Finisterre (2017)
Porto Coastal (2019)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
You are correct it is selfish. Leaving your loved ones to pick up everything where you left off. They must have given you their blessing to do so. You may have been feeling everything was getting too much. People depended on you too much. How are they going to manage without you.! Sometimes you do need to recharge yourself to help others even more.
A Jesuit Priest once said ' how can you expect to look after others, when you don't look after yourself'
Each one of us are different, one size doesn't fit all.
Buen Camino
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
If you were to tell a "normal" person that you consider it a luxury and selfish to walk a half-marathon a day for thirty-some days running, sleeping on bunkbeds in a room with a dozen other snoring and farting people, and eating so-so food served with cheap red wine, they'd think you were out of your gourd! But I do consider walking the Camino a great luxury. Simplifying your life down to the essentials is that great luxury.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Yes, I always felt it was selfish, ie putting myself first, regardless of what my nearest and dearest might feel!
i just thought I owed it to myself after a lifetime of looking after everyone else...
Sometimes, looking after yourself is a very good thing. If anything, it’ll make you stronger to carry on looking after others! 😁
I only did it once my youngest child had been at Uni for a year... The only person who ‘suffered’ was my husband and I thought he was old enough and strong enough to take it! 😉
 

Faye Walker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
When I arrived in SJPDP for my first Camino I asked for a credencial and was refused. One of the reasons given was that I had not brought a letter of introduction from my parish priest. Although things have clearly moved on from that if your priest's blessing would be of value to you personally I can think of no good reason in principle why you should not still ask for and receive it.

Mmmmm. I have no priest. It's complicated... but my RC father had been ex-communicated and so his *second* marriage (to my mother was not recognized). I was, therefore, baptized on the lawn of the RC Lady of whatever on Van Nuys Blvd as a favour to my aunt who was a powerful lay-member of the church.... But make no mistake, I'm a filthy heathen, not welcome in the church. Which is kinda why I have not attended mass since I was 16 unless it's been for a wedding or a funeral. Yet, because I went to mass regularly with my aunts, and my grandmother... and because we are Irish... well, it's the church I see as "mine"...

What I am suggesting I wish for is a simpler social organization in which the small town priest actually cares about the flock, and provides his blessing for pilgrimage only if he knows your affairs are in order, that you are not running from debts or other obligations etc. The bonus of that mode was that even if a tragedy should befall those left behind while the pilgrim was away, the pilgrim had a stamp of approval for the leave and absolution....

But we do not live in that world (for better and worse I suppose) and even if I could go visit the local priest and get the stamp, it would not be anything other than a formality, not an awareness of a good father over one of his flock...

So I will walk as a traditionalist atheist Catholic... to Santiago... hoping not to be smote for my hubris.

It's a strange affliction.
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(10,11,17), Vasco(12), Salvador(13), CP(13), CN(14), Madrid (16), Mozarabe (18), VdlP(19)
Speaking for myself, a one word response would be yes.

I find the Camino an introspective journey. I do not have to deal with any of the daily distractions my normal life provides. It allows me to be in my own head for a month. During that time, I can look at my self and identify areas to improve. There are many. My goal is to identify a small change and embed it in my life. Over the years, I hope these changes have helped to make me a better Husband, Father, Brother, Neighbor, Friend and Human being.

I figure about another 1000 Camino's and I will be close to perfect ;-).

Ultreya,
Joe
 
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked part of the Camino Frances and plan to start over in April 2018.
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Time for the SELF is not a bad thing. Remember that you cannot take care of others until you take care of yourself first. Even airline strwards tell us to put on our own oxygen mask FIRST before helping another! So go for it and stop feeling guilty for taking care of yourself.
 

Simon B

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles and Camino Frances. VDLP Spring 2019
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
If one thinks about these things that much you are in danger of turning a great experience into a guilt ridden walk in the woods. Just go and get from it what you can and enjoy the whole thing - and the thing can be anything you want it to be.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I can see where you are coming from. I think all of us approach the Camino and get different things out of the experience as we are different people, shaped by different pasts. You are not the only one who sees the Camino this way. I've seen other walkers (and spouses left behind) express similar opinions.

My own opinion is that the Camino helps us be our best selves. That is certainly a selfish thing. But I think it is also of immense benefit to others. When we are our best selves, we have more to offer.
 

jerbear

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de madrid, camino francis, camino inverino (2012, 2013,2014)
CdM, Francis, San salvador, primativo june 2015 CDM , francis, inverino 2016
Camino madrid, via de Plata. Santiago.
Coast of the dead malpica to muxia
Well, ain't it fun! Yahoooo.
 

PeteD

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Bicigrino SJPdP - SdC Mar 2016
Kumano Kodo Sept 2018
VdlP (Mar 2020)
I have to agree with @David Tallen - being 'selfish' by taking time away to experience a Camino and all that that experience can bring to you could possibly be the greatest gift you can offer all those people in your other life. If you never go, you'll never know!
 

Robi Diaz De Vivar

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2016), Norte (2017), Portuges (2018), Mozarabe (2019), Primitivo (2019), Via de La Plata (2
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
I had never really considered the selfish aspect of the Camino. I was encouraged to undertake my first Camino in 2016 by my wife, 10 days on the Camino Frances from Pamplona to Burgos, to accompany an old friend who was doing the whole thing from St Jean to Santiago. We run a Bed & Breakfast business out of our house in Andalucia so it meant that she had to be prepared to take on all that business entails so that I could walk. I have now done another 4 since - generally 7 days each time - meaning that she has had to work solo for all those days. I am a lucky man. It has not all been one way traffic - in those years she has been to visit her family in Australia and to reunions with friends in England but we do not keep score.

I certainly came back from that first Camino with a different point of view (world view) and have been trying to work it into my everyday life. This seems something that Robbo isn't doing or even trying to do. Remember the feeling from the Camino and channel it into your professional and personal life in the "real world".
 

jozero

Been there, going again...
Camino(s) past & future
CF x 3
This seems something that Robbo isn't doing or even trying to do. Remember the feeling from the Camino and channel it into your professional and personal life in the "real world".

p.s. As I see you are a new member, welcome to the forum.
 

Tony Lenton

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles (2018)
Camino Frances ( from Ponferrada 2019)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
I don’t wish to appear rude but you have a strong sense of martyrdom. I have too, learnt from my mother. “Serving others” as you call it could also be called the pursuit of wealth/success/happiness. For most of us a major issue in life is to work out where we each begin and end and the overlap with the needs and wishes of others. Just work out what you want to do and do it. Put a guilt stone in your boot and it will prick you until you take it out, probably before Orisson.
You’ve done your bit by the sound of it. Just enjoy your Camino. There’s plenty to enjoy.
Ultreia.
 
Camino(s) past & future
This will be my husband and my first Camino at age 68!
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
No, don’t delete it! I talked to a pastor friend before leaving on my first Camino. I thought it was a very selfish endeavor. Her reply was very quick, when you return you’ll spend the “Word” of your findings small or large.
I’m on the Camino now, just miles from Santiago and don’t want it to end. I’ve learned so much along the “Way” and intend to share w friends and my church family upon return. Mostly my strong message is faith in faith and in God’s people. Buen Camino pilgrims
 

lbrown498

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
October 2012 done 2015 planning
I think that thinking in polar extremes -- selfish vs self-denying -- generally leads to nonsense. There's a reason the airline staff tell you in case of an emergency to put on your oxygen mask first. Allowing your employees to become too dependent on you may not be the best thing for their collective health or yours.

Also "serving others" self-consciously can be a very egotistical game in itself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
this will be my first. Norte September 2018.
Eeyore is a bit glum yet he is my favourite character in the Hundred Acre Wood.

The camino could be seen as an opportunity to recharge so that you can (as in, are able to) invest energy in others the rest of the time.

Yes, I think the camino is a pretty selfish time & space - but so be it. Hopefully we are not selfish -in the sense of hogging resources and not sharing - in the course of the camino.
Selfish only in the need to take care of yourself.
 

jantom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020 Camino Portugues coastal route
I'm hearing/sensing a heaviness in your obligation to serve others. Or perhaps I'm sensing what I've struggled with myself.
Are we better served by supporting others to be self sufficient and have their own agency? How does it benefit us to have others overly dependent on us?
Similiar to you, I have my own business. For self preservation I've made it a priority (still in progress) to support those that work with and for me to enhance their autonomy - their ability to thirve and support the business.
The same goes in my personal life. If I took ill or died and those I love were unable to (or struggled to) manage I would feel I've taken the gift of self sufficiency from them.
It's a dilemna isn't it? Relationships are a fine balancing act between being supportive or creating a need in others to rely on us.
Thanks, Robo, for your musings and spurring lots of food for thought.
 

Theandrea

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2015, March 2016, January 2017
I see it like this: self ... fish. I try to fish for my self I have lost long time ago. The Camino is the perfect waters to go fishing 😉
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I'm hearing/sensing a heaviness in your obligation to serve others. Or perhaps I'm sensing what I've struggled with myself.
Are we better served by supporting others to be self sufficient and have their own agency? How does it benefit us to have others overly dependent on us?
Similiar to you, I have my own business. For self preservation I've made it a priority (still in progress) to support those that work with and for me to enhance their autonomy - their ability to thirve and support the business.
The same goes in my personal life. If I took ill or died and those I love were unable to (or struggled to) manage I would feel I've taken the gift of self sufficiency from them.
It's a dilemna isn't it? Relationships are a fine balancing act between being supportive or creating a need in others to rely on us.
Thanks, Robo, for your musings and spurring lots of food for thought.
Well said!
 

WalkingJane

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May and October 2015
(2015 October)
June 2018 Portuguese
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
Not selfish, in my view. I think those who "serve", however that is defined or works out, absolutely deserve and need opportunities to focus only on their own immediate concerns. Like the airlines say "put on your own oxygen mask first"! The Camino provides such a perfect atmosphere of being only "here now", with only one's own needs to attend to. Plus - fresh air, healthy exercise, people to meet, different language and customs, etc. Keep on walking, and allow yourself to wallow (well, enjoy...) in the freedom.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015)
Le Puy (2016)
Vézelay (2019)
Norte (2019)
Why do I say selfish?
Self-critical, self-indulgent, self-improving, self-reflective, self-focused, self-worth, self-doubting, self-analytical, self-flagellating.
Selfish?
 

Marciagayle

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2020
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
 

Marciagayle

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2020
I can relate. Planning my first Camino in 2021. My first trip abroad without my husband. We’ve been traveling together for 25 years..I want this SO much and he has no interest. I feel selfish for using our hard earned retirement money for a solo trip. He has given me his blessing, so I am grateful for that.
 

TaraWalks

Peregrina without a skateboard
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016 & 2018, planning for Le Puy 2019/2020ish and for some shorter Caminos stacked
I don't think its selfish at all. Why is it considered selfish to look after your self? You cant pour from an empty cup.
I 100% agree. I’m a fan of saying put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. I am child free by choice but have a very tough but altruistic career and elderly parents who are still very functional but I still keep an eye on them. I definitely serve.

Call me entitled but I need Caminos in my life. This is how I have arranged my life to work for me and everyone is different.

I would not be able to function without “checking out” of reality every now and again. I have set my life up to be able to do this and don’t believe it is selfish if you come back a better functioning person. Just my two cents.
 

Mick McQueen

https://www.facebook.com/groups/
Camino(s) past & future
I am escorting the Roll of Honour (Afghanistan) on Camino France on 20 May from SJPDP
The Roll of Honour details the 41 young Australians who died on Active Service in Afghanistan. In the centenary of the ANZAC’s, the Roll of Honour will be escorted to 41 prominent places and events around the World, laying 41 Poppies at each location.
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
And one of the first lessons taught as a young Officer is the person below you is taught your job regardless of rank, to be blunt succession is one round ( bullet) away and if this is replicated in a civilian model and you have problems trusting the process then we are dealing with micro management in a big way.( some people through insecurity also put themselves in a position where they need to be seen as irreplaceable so can’t let go and withhold some of the key information)
As to the complex aspect of your entire post it can only be solved by yourself, only you know the answers. Apart from the importance of escorting the Roll of Honour Afghanistan on my last Camino to me it’s just another bloody long walk with great people from around the world.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Why do I say selfish?
Self-critical, self-indulgent, self-improving, self-reflective, self-focused, self-worth, self-doubting, self-analytical, self-flagellating.
You forgot self-transcending.

The camino can show what it is to live from 'we,' rather than 'me.'
There's nothing at all selfish about that. Quite the opposite. Take that home, and the world's a better place.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
And one of the first lessons taught as a young Officer is the person below you is taught your job regardless of rank, to be blunt succession is one round ( bullet) away and if this is replicated in a civilian model and you have problems trusting the process then we are dealing with micro management in a big way.( some people through insecurity also put themselves in a position where they need to be seen as irreplaceable so can’t let go and withhold some of the key information)
As to the complex aspect of your entire post it can only be solved by yourself, only you know the answers. Apart from the importance of escorting the Roll of Honour Afghanistan on my last Camino to me it’s just another bloody long walk with great people from around the world.
If this sounds defensive it's not mean to be. At all. These sorts of posts are often quite hard, because it's not what you post that's the issue, it's what you leave out. And who wants to read War and Peace'!

Yes I totally get your point, and was of course taught that in Military Officer Training as you were.
It's a lot harder though in the civilian environment I think. The mix of roles, experience, capabilities, training, really has no comparison in my mind, Particularly in a small business. Trust the process. Absolutely...... if there is one.

Succession planning is really hard for example. Not that I haven't tried. I've had two great 'replacements' poached. Micro manage? You might be surprised. I have junior staff trying out running major client projects. I really haven't had much to do with finance for years. My team do all that. etc etc. I'm probably the opposite. Not involved enough. Another long story ........

No, my concern was genuine. My team coped. But they had to work extra hard (and it showed)
And I've done it three times to them and more to come. I'm very happy to not micro manage. In fact to not even be there! Doesn't stop a bit of feeling guilty though............

Thanks for your response, and well done re the Roll of Honour.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I just listened to a podcast from a US local radio station: an interview with Timothy Egan about his recent book on a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome. In a phone-in section one listener says that she thinks the whole thing was a self-indulgent waste of time and money. If you want a long walk why not do it locally and pick up litter as you go? And why not use the time more productively? - for example by working to support homeless people. Egan and the interviewer challenge that by asking if the choice must be so absolutely black and white. Fundamentalism takes many forms.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017), Primitivo (2019)
Speaking for myself, a one word response would be yes.

I find the Camino an introspective journey. I do not have to deal with any of the daily distractions my normal life provides. It allows me to be in my own head for a month. During that time, I can look at my self and identify areas to improve. There are many. My goal is to identify a small change and embed it in my life. Over the years, I hope these changes have helped to make me a better Husband, Father, Brother, Neighbor, Friend and Human being.

I figure about another 1000 Camino's and I will be close to perfect ;-).

Ultreya,
Joe,
Agreed.... we struggle to justify an introspective journey, after a lifetime of work, family and other obligations. Upon arriving at a certain time of our life, is it not natural and reasonable to consider a different path forward. A new existence, where wage earning responsibility may be passed on and we allow ourselves some space to discover, apart from “the grind”. If, as Robo has said, the house is paid for, it might be time for him to facilitate a handoff to someone else, who can make a little rain. Hopefully, he can pass the baton and look forward to a new phase, without unnecessary guilt.
 

Faye Walker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2014, CF 2018, CP 2019 from Coimbra
I just listened to a podcast from a US local radio station: an interview with Timothy Egan about his recent book on a pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome. In a phone-in section one listener says that she thinks the whole thing was a self-indulgent waste of time and money. If you want a long walk why not do it locally and pick up litter as you go? And why not use the time more productively? - for example by working to support homeless people. Egan and the interviewer challenge that by asking if the choice must be so absolutely black and white. Fundamentalism takes many forms.

Wow... what a horrible sounding woman! My experience of humans is that it is not so black-and-white indeed. Many camino walkers I have met are extremely community oriented at home -- from being volunteer safety and rescue personnel, to doing community-based volunteer work with street-involved people, working as hospice care providers.... teaching Sunday school.... And many of those same people worry about whether they are entitled to such a long time off for something like a camino. Meanwhile, plenty of people who don't volunteer to do anything are very easily able to take lengthy sojourns for "self care".

I hope that woman learns some generosity... maybe ditches the "turn every walk into a death march" approach to life.
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
You forgot self-transcending.

The camino can show what it is to live from 'we,' rather than 'me.'
There's nothing at all selfish about that. Quite the opposite. Take that home, and the world's a better place.
My feelings exactly! In fact this was what I was about to write:

Selfish? Hell no! If by walking we become a kinder, more compassionate person then walking the Camino becomes a gift not only to yourself, but also to your friends, family and the community as a whole. Now that is what we need in the world!
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Re leading a business, overseeing, staff, exhaustion, guilt, etc.

My eldest son had a small business, employed five people. With two children he found that the balance between home and work was completely wrong - not only was he working long days he was also working at home in the evenings, accounts, schedules. It was a screen print business.
He asked his workers if they would like to work an hour and a half extra each day but only four days a week for the same money and they leapt at it - gave him an extra day at home .. four on, three off, not too bad ... but after a year it was still too much - there was a lot of guilt in there, both work guilt and home guilt.

So he extracted the art print side of the business for himself, called a meeting, and asked if his workers would like to have the business for themselves, for free (he sold them the machines, but over five years, interest free). He just gave it to them, with the customer list, with the promise that he would help them in the first year.

After some hiccups they did well and it is thriving now.

He took another commercial unit elsewhere and focussed on superb art print, bringing his partner, who is a photographer, into the business and that is doing superbly. Just the two of them and their daily focus is on creative work and he loves that. I suggested that they creat a 'child home' section so that the children could be at the unit the first couple of hours after school, do their homework, eat, be with their parents so they could carry on working for a couple of hours. A sort of family medieval model really.

My point here is that he grasped the nettle - looked at his life, his situation, and radically changed it. His exhaustion and guilt are gone. He no longer has to manage a team of people, their earnings and taxes .. and he loves what he does now - he is happy. His wife is happy, his children are happy. Oh - and funnily enough he now earns more money than he did! I am So proud of him, that he did that!

My point - we can all do this. Downsize the house and get rid of the mortgage, one car instead of two, live simpler, cheaper, happier - don't you think??

You can see his business here - https://whiteduckeditions.net/ (scroll down and look at some of his clients!!).
 
Last edited:

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Re leading a business, overseeing, staff, exhaustion, guilt, etc.

My eldest son had a small business, employed five people. With two children he found that the balance between home and work was completely wrong - not only was he working long days he was also working at home in the evenings, accounts, schedules. It was a screen print business.
He asked his workers if they would like to work an hour and a half extra each day but only four days a week for the same money and they leapt at it - gave him an extra day at home .. four on, three off, not too bad ... but after a year it was still too much - there was a lot of guilt in there, both work guilt and home guilt.

So he extracted the art print side of the business for himself, called a meeting, and asked if his workers would like to have the business for themselves, for free. He just gave it to them, with the customer list, with the promise that he would help them in the first year.

After some hiccups they did well and it is thriving now.

He took another commercial unit elsewhere and focussed on superb art print, bringing his partner, who is a photographer, into the business and that is doing superbly. They created a 'child home' section so that the children could be at the unit the first couple of hours after school, do their homework, eat, be with their parents so they could carry on working.

My point here is that he grasped the nettle - looked at his life, his situation, and radically changed it. His exhaustion and guilt are gone. He no longer has to manage a tream of people, their earnings and taxes .. and he loves what he does now - he is happy. His wife is happy, his children are happy.

My point - we can all do this. Downsize the house and get rid of the mortgage, one car instead of two, live simpler, cheaper, happier - don't you think??

Apologies this is so long.
Nice post @David . I think these are the things that many start to think about as they walk a Camino, particularly a fairly long one.
 

AnaRosario

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pomplano to Santiago (March 29-May 6 2018)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
I so long to be back in Spain to walk another Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Ponferrada - Santiago (2013)
Porto to Santiago (2015)
Lugo to Finisterre (2017)
Porto Coastal (2019)
Mmmmm. I have no priest. It's complicated... but my RC father had been ex-communicated and so his *second* marriage (to my mother was not recognized). I was, therefore, baptized on the lawn of the RC Lady of whatever on Van Nuys Blvd as a favour to my aunt who was a powerful lay-member of the church.... But make no mistake, I'm a filthy heathen, not welcome in the church. Which is kinda why I have not attended mass since I was 16 unless it's been for a wedding or a funeral. Yet, because I went to mass regularly with my aunts, and my grandmother... and because we are Irish... well, it's the church I see as "mine"...

What I am suggesting I wish for is a simpler social organization in which the small town priest actually cares about the flock, and provides his blessing for pilgrimage only if he knows your affairs are in order, that you are not running from debts or other obligations etc. The bonus of that mode was that even if a tragedy should befall those left behind while the pilgrim was away, the pilgrim had a stamp of approval for the leave and absolution....

But we do not live in that world (for better and worse I suppose) and even if I could go visit the local priest and get the stamp, it would not be anything other than a formality, not an awareness of a good father over one of his flock...

So I will walk as a traditionalist atheist Catholic... to Santiago... hoping not to be smote for my hubris.

It's a strange affliction.
As a Roman Catholic, I have known so many folk who have been hurt by certain Priests, who either have excommunicated them or made them feel unwelcome. When I go to Mass, I am there for Jesus and to receive Him, Body and Blood, not to be involved in Church politics. Positive changes are happening within the Catholic Church, but people are still in pain for the wrongdoings to them and their family. I am not in a position or clever enough to give answers.
Everyone is welcome in the Catholic Church. Someone said," I don't sit here in this Church, because I am perfect. I sit here in this Church because I am not perfect.

Admin, please delete this if this is not relevant or upsets anyone.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Pamplona to burgos
Robo does walking the Camino have a positive effect on you does it change you for the better ! If so does that effect flow to your partner ,friends and work mates if so isn't that a benefit to them and you! So while walking the Camino could be selfish in the short term perhaps it is selfless in the long term ? Just a thought.
 

WayWalker

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2016
Interesting thought. Sort of like how volunteering to help alzheimers patients and someone tells me, wow that is so benevolent of you or I could never do that or bless you for your struggles, when inside I am thinking that I do this selfishly because I get so much from it personally. Like I said, interesting thought.
 

cactusthorn

New Member
Walking a Camino is absolutely a selfish act. People try to rationalize it, but really whatever your motivation for the Camino you do expect something back.

It makes me uncomfortable when people tell me that I'm "amazing" for walking 800+ km. No, I'm not. I'm just doing what I love to do.
No you don’t. Or you do. But, to make it short, it does either protect you from a burnout, or starts a healing process. Not always. Just like no you don’t yes you do.
 

leichecerca

Can’t stay away
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Finisterre: May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2018
Camino Frances: April-May 2017
Wonderful to read these responses, and thank you @Robo for bringing up this topic. Since my first Camino in 2017, and following my 2nd in 2018, I have been utterly haunted by a desire to return. @t2andreo 's posts about volunteering in Santiago greatly inspired me, so I had the honor of giving back as a Pilgrim Office volunteer for 2 weeks in 2018 -- which I highly, highly recommend!

In addition to the oxygen mask analogy mentioned by many, I'd like to add that there's also the simple fact that physically, the Camino provides an opportunity to live life at a slower pace, outside in nature, which is more in tune with how human beings are naturally wired to be. I think what haunts repeat pilgrims, and part of what makes the Camino experience so amazing, is that it is an extended break from almost all artificial distractions and from living/thinking at the speed of modern technological life. Freed from the responsibility of all decision-making and managing our busy lives (which are ever more heavily electronic), we are more fully present in each moment, able to more deeply appreciate the beauty of nature, and to hear our own inner thoughts, suppressed perhaps for all of our lives. This renders us more able to respond to the needs of others, and more able to see the magic of synchronicity, or what some would call Divine guidance.

I believe this synchronicity, or what is often called "Camino Magic," is just how humans are meant to live... taking care of each other. Distraction-free, we are better able to hear the voice of instinct and intuition, the tiny whisper of what some might call an angel telling us to turn left here, or pick up an extra apple there, such that our path might later cross with someone who needs exactly what we have to give, whether it's food, encouragement, a blister kit, prayer, conversation, or simply our silent presence.

It is indeed a privilege to have the means to walk away from a busy life of responsibility to take this self-imposed time-out... but ultimately, we are born alone, we die alone... the relationship to ourselves is the one that for many of us gets the least attention. The Camino can be a reboot, a potent reminder to heed the call of what is neglected and unheard deep inside all of us. Selfish? No way.
 

Aidan21

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to SDC 2013/14
SJPP to SDC 2016
Porto to SDC 2017
VdlP Sevilla/Salamanca 2018
Selfishness implies something bad. Better to serve others rather than serve the self, right??. Maybe, maybe not.

We cannot serve others unless we are in a place where we can give. And we cannot give what we do not have. Sometimes we need to be / must be selfish and give to ourselves, i.e. Love Ourselves so that we have the life and the energy to give to others and live a fuller life for ourselves.

A lifetime of selfishness is a poor way to spend a life imo. To take the necessary time and spend the necessary effort to look after ourselves is not selfish. In fact to look after the self is NOT selfish but a necessary act of self love that gives us the freedom and ability to relate to others in a more open, loving and generous way.

So if walking the Camino allows you to feel good about yourself, will that help you be a better person and help you to better serve others afterwards. I bet it will.

Enjoy the Camino and pamper yourself. You have earned it and you deserve it!!
 

Matthew Merten

What yellow arrow?
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Frances (2021)
The question probably goes a lot deeper than walking a Camino, but it's the Camino that gets me thinking about it.

This post is not meant to be any kind of self therapy or plea for forgiveness or anything else.
So please just take it at face value.
It's just a ramble and only from my perspective.

Maybe the post and the comments it elicits might create some interesting debate or help others. Who knows.
Do others feel the same way? Who knows.

I might summarise the post with a couple of key points at the end............here goes.

I struggled with this question on my first Camino in 2015. It was solo. I felt it needed to be.
As some of you will know, I found that first Camino transformative in so many ways.
It was everything that I had hoped and dreamed it might be and more.
I have walked 2 more since. Both with my wife Pat.

My next, if my health improves, will be alone.
I just prefer it. I need it to be alone. It has to be.
Walking a long Pilgrimage whilst at the same time looking after someone else's well being, is something I just cannot juggle.
It's a bit like work / life balance. A myth. In my mind at least. (for a business owner)

But I digress.
This post is prompted by my solo Camino and those that hopefully are yet to come.

On Camino #1, I really struggled with taking the time out and to use that time just for me.

A bit of background as context.

I left home at age 15 (not by choice) and joined the Army.
Did very well. Graduated officer training, gained a Masters Degree etc etc.
That was 22 years of my life.
It was a life committed to serving others.
My comrades, my country and those in need of help.
It was a life I mainly enjoyed.

The next 22 years of my life (with a small 3 year gap working for someone else), is running my own business.
I am serving others. My clients, my staff, whose welfare and livelihood are my responsibility.
And my family of course.

Roll back to 2015 and Camino #1.
If I was to take 2 months out, would the business cope?
Some of my managers were worried, though supported my 'leave of absence'
I'm the primary 'rain maker'.
They coped, just. Through a lot of extra hard work.

Would family be OK? My father in law was not well.
Pat had to deal with all that alone.

Every day of that first Camino I felt a sense of guilt.
For just being there, and not where I 'should' have been.

But on the flip side, I felt free for the first time in my life.
And at peace, and happy. Of course creating more guilt....

The seed was sewn.
I wanted to repeat the Camino.
It was almost like 'chasing the dragon'.
To have 'something', if only for a short time, that was so elusive in my day to day life.

Of course the 'ideal' is to replicate that Camino feeling at home.

But 'home' doesn't really allow that in my case.
I just work. Eat, sleep and work.
An occasional day off.
I have a long list of responsibilities and people to serve.

And that of course............just creates more guilt.
Every time I yearn to be walking in Spain.

I was prompted to write this post, after reading an earlier post today.
I think it was about returning to the real world.
A point made by a conference speaker.

OK, so what is this ramble all about?
Why have I written it?
What can I or others learn from it?

  1. The Camino 'can' be life changing. Be prepared for that, if you are embarking on your first. You might just come back a different person. Very different.
  2. Your priorities may change. You may reflect on what is really important to you, and decide that some things are no longer of value. For a business owner, that was a huge negative. I was no longer as motivated. But others depend on the business. 'Catch 22'.
  3. Maybe, just maybe, you will decide to turn your life upside down. Creating turmoil for others. I have considered retiring, every day since that first Camino, but serving others keeps me at the wheel.
I suppose an ultimate question raised in my mind, is how much, really how much, can we live our own lives. The lives we choose. Or would want, if given a choice.

Those sorts of questions might be lurking deep down, as you plan, certainly as you walk, and absolutely as you return, to that 'Real World'.

On re-reading this it all sounds a bit glum!
Maybe I'll delete it..........

Let's see how it runs ;)

Throw in your 2 cents worth!
What a wonderful word, “selfish,” to describe the meaningful wandering in Spain and beyond. For three decades I’ve spent a lot of time outside of my gainful employment in volunteering for charities and in giving a lot money to others. I took six weeks off a couple years ago giving care to my dying mother, holding her hand as she passed away. Yet I haven’t performed a single altruistic act in my life. Honestly, as in I’ve-hit-my-bottom “honestly,” all those things have been self centered. Then I went to France to begin a pilgrimage to Santiago.

Once I had spent my first two weeks on the Camino, I altered how I approached the final two weeks. I’d get on the trail at 3 AM to get to my destination by 11AM. For the next hour I’d roam the immediate vicinity of my alburgue to locate the nearest farmacia, tienda, cafe, restuarante, other alburgues, etc. From noon to dinner I’d loiter on the streets to help other Peregrinos find lodging, food, the ATM, etc. I’d crash at 7 PM and do it all over again the next day. I had the time of my life. I was being selfish, really.

I don’t feel guilty for any of it because guilt is a fact based upon an act. I’m guilty of being selfish and I will feel shame any time I “take care” of someone instead of “giving care” to that person, but I don’t feel guilt about it. I felt embarrassed every so often when my broken Spanish caused temporary confusion, but I didn’t feel guilt.

Get this: when I walk the Camino in the dark from 3-6 AM, I am given the most intense opportunity to relate to my HigherPower with each step. These silent conversations would prepare me for the people I’d meet when I was done hiking that day. I saw many things that I would not see in daylight, like the sun cresting the mountains behind the iron cross, and the stars that seemed so close that if you would dare to touch them your heart would break. Still, I had to admit the entire Camino experience, the blisters, the swollen knee that almost forced me to go home early, the rejection of overloaded albergues, the 102F fever, was all just for my own personal gain.

And I’m so selfish that I’m going back in 2021.

Have a selfish day.
 

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