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Why do pilgrims carry on when it is really hard?

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
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Frances 2015;
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Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
I love this new thread, David! I have posted quite awhile ago what motivates me to walk...

"I keep going because I love walking each step and seeing the landscape and ancient villages unfold slowly before me...on a hill it slowly becomes larger as I approach, and after I leave, turning around I see it diminish in the distance, which is very satisfying.

Being in another land makes me feel like an adventurer and capable of persevering through some hardships. In a nutshell, it makes me still feel young...although I am not young!" 😊
 

FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
I think there are a number of motivations for non-religious walkers to carry on through pain and hardship. 1) For many the Camino is a once in a lifetime experience for which they have saved and planned for years. Knowing you may never get another chance to walk causes them to push on even with pain and rain. 2) You become a part of something bigger than yourself on the Camino. You are a part of this “Camino organism”. The organism moves forward and you move forward with it in spite of suffering. Santiago is calling you forward. 3) You want to continue with the amazing experience which is the Camino. It may not be a religious experience, but it is one in which you grow as a person. One which most truly enjoy. And let’s not forget your new found friends whom you want to continue with as long as possible.

frm
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I think part of it is looking forward to the satisfaction of achievement. I used to say the same thing about running. I saw it as a grammatically perfect activity. I hated running, but I loved having run.

But, of course, walking a Camino, even when it is terribly difficult, has its rewards in the present as well as the future: the simplicity, the freedom, the landscape, the culture, the community, the connection. And we shouldn't underestimate that last. While our driver may be internal, it is supported by the community we share with others of the same goals and by the connections we make to fellow pilgrims and (for some) to something bigger.
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
i think there will be no single answer as to why people submit themself to various challenges. Why do they run marathons, why found a business, why fly into space... and so on.

For myself i can say, i am not a religious person but i found some deep satisfaction in walking the camino. I like the cultural aspects, the old towns and old buildings. The landscape. The people, be they relgious or not. I even liked the churches and masses (messes? church services...).
There where a few aspects i was not a fan of, but with all historic stuff, once you look really close at it, you will discover the occasional "dark history" and i for my part wont let that stop me enjoying the positive aspects.

So why did i carry on when it was hard? when i was hurting? when i felt homesick? Because thats what you do with challenges. Accept them and overcome them.
 
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Curiosity. What will happen today? Whom will I meet? What will I see? Will it rain on me? Will it be an easy walk or a hard one? What’s behind that next hill? Where will I sleep tonight…?

Every day is a new adventure :)
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
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Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)
The most difficult part of walking on the Camino is arriving in Santiago. I dread the feeling of the transition from being a Pilgrim to a tourist and the realization that it is over for now, is difficult for me to handle. What helps me is to have already made plans to return again next year.

The biggest reward is the number of friendships that I have made on the Camino and on this Forum.

My addiction to the Camino has made me a stronger and a better person and for that I give thanks.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
First 2016
Latest Camino Frances Jul-Aug 2020
Because I'm too old to sleep in a ditch!

More seriously I think the sense of a journey to a place rather than simply doing a hike or trek provides a sense of purpose for us non-religious peregrinos as well. The fact that you are doing what other people have done in the same way (although without modern comforts) provides the Camino with meaning.

I also hope I never forget the first sight of the mountains walking west from Leon after a week or more on the Meseta.
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I don't know ... if someone were jogging in a park and their knee went would they carry on in terrible pain because they had promised themselves 30 laps and there were still 15 to go? No, they would stop.

So I wasn't really thinking of normal adventure hardships but serious debilitating pain and similar - pain that at home one would go to the doctor then take a few days off work, that sort of level - yet I have seen and tried to treat many who won't even stop for 48 hours to heal but insist on carrying on, even if they are in tears - it is that level I was wondering about - some years ago there was heavy snow in April all the way to Burgos and I saw a pilgrim trudging along, ankle deep, entering town ... his face looked awful, he was freezing - yet he was carrying on (mind you he could have been carrying on to get to the train station!!).

This is beyond anticipation of Santiago, or Camino family - is it merely to do with the fear of failing? Of letting ourselves down?
Or is there something in the core being of the human mind, a tenacity and bravery, that elsewhere displays itself more commonly as acts of heroism?
 

Anhalter

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019 CF
I don't know ... if someone were jogging in a park and their knee went would they carry on in terrible pain because they had promised themselves 30 laps and there were still 15 to go? No, they would stop.
In the city i live in, there is a 100km-in-24h hiking event each year. It's nicely organized (non-profit) and has 1000 starting slots. There is nothing to win but a certificate that you did actually did finish (and nobody checks if you cheated).

Last year all slots were sold after 42 minutes.

I did not finish it myself yet. I tried several times. I will try again next year unless I'm on the Primitivo.
I know people that finished it however. I know in what shape they arrive. It's usually not pretty.
So why do they do this? There is nothing to win. Nothing to achieve. They do it for them and nobody else.

Compared to that, my camino was a walk in the park with significantly more wine.

edit: to clarify: my personal camino, in hindsight, was easy. Lots of people have a way harder time and i admire them for going as far as they could, be it Santiago or not. My example is merely to show, that humans tend to do hard-to-relate-to stuff for various reasons.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
My son and his wife have a travel website and decided to join me and the other son on our 2nd Frances camino from SJPdP. My son developed absolutely horrible shin splints before Ponferrada, his wife got a stomach flu and couldn't eat for three days, and also had blisters. I encouraged them to let us stop to take a few days off for them to rest or at least take a taxi, but they refused...so we marched on. I think it had to do with their travel website and they were determined to walk every single step from SJPdP, so we did. They were surprised that they suffered, but they were more amazed that Mom had no issues.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
Very interesting question.
I think for some it is the fear of failing. They have committed time away from family, for what could be described as a selfish month away from their home responsibilities. Some of that fear may be in justifying to themselves and their families the actual financial cost, taken from their future plans, family budgets or even via credit cards. The truth is that what with flights, and even a meagre 50 to 60 Euros a day, that is a lot of dosh spent on self.
Some folks are mentally strong and after a good meal and a night's rest just get on with what comes their way. ( could be that they have defective short term memory😁)
Like I said, interesting question.
The thing is it isn't just on Camino, we spot this in all walks of life and occasions. Humans are quite individualistic, as they say "one man's meat is another man's poison"
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...


I love the journey.

I would never describe myself as religious, but as I get older I feel some sympathy with something ‘spiritual’, and so ...

On my first camino I set off on a walking holiday, no more, no less. It was a pleasure not to be walking in a circle for a change.

It took the best part of two weeks before it started to feel different.

Whether or not you have any affinity to their aims, I think there is something strange which happens to a path which many have trod before, and I started to think there was something more to my holiday than just a good walk with decent food and drink.

Then I got hooked and came back time and time again. I don’t collect compostelle any longer but I do collect sellos.

I have, however, called a halt once. CdMadrid in 2019. Plantar fasciitis.

I keep going - in that I keep returning - but I know when to stop as well.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I feel safe on the Caminos as we are surrounded "here and there" by mostly good people, different as we all may be, and although I'm not catholic, I love the religous feeling, and visiting the many churches and cathedrals along the way. I much prefer this to hiking on the beautiful mountain trails in our national parks in the US as "been there, done that" for the majority of my adult life. I also appreciate being exposed to all of the cultural and architectural differences the Caminos provide.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I am a Christian. I go because I was called. I do not feel that calling any more, but I remember it. I walk now, regardless of the cost(s) and I wait in hope to hear a renewal of the call. Maybe that is my way of living the Christian life.
 
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Lirsy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo, Norte, Francés, Volunteer Hospitalero.
I think the answer is not that difficult. I think that what leads you to carry your backpack, that forcing you to leave many things at home that you would normally take with you, is the same reason that leads a person to climb a steep mountain instead of taking the chairlift and enjoying a coffee on the terrace of the hotel that is at its peak ... a feeling of accomplishment ... I DID IT !!

BTW, after 8 Caminos I'm still one of those silly guys who carry his backpack🤣
 

Rick M

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
April ('16,'18, '19, 21)
Or is there something in the core being of the human mind, a tenacity and bravery, that elsewhere displays itself more commonly as acts of heroism?

Heroism? Perhaps its more helpful to ponder why some (not all of course) retired people who live alone will wake up in the morning, shave, dress, coif hair, and proceed to the easy chair to watch their daytime shows. What is the point of getting dressed at all? The answer of course, lies in our self image - whether imposed from without or within, we all struggle to maintain our identities.

As a matter of principle, this type exchange should only be allowed while seated in plastic chairs at a plastic table under an umbrella, lubricated by the local vino tinto.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Oh those darned non-religious pilgrims again. They do the strangest things.

Well you know we are like bumblebees. We shouldn't be able to fly, still we do.

How do you know that religious pilgrims carry on in spite of pain? You say you "understand" it. Well I don't know that they do go on in spite of pain. Is there a survey?

I think some pilgrims stop because of pain/injury, and some don't. But I have yet to see statistics about religious pilgrims being more stubborn.

Well sorry moderators for bringing up religion but it's kind of inherent to the question.

/BP
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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(May 2016)
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Some thoughts....... (on why Pilgrims keep going even if they are suffering)

  1. They have made a commitment to themselves.
  2. They have made a very public commitment to family and friends.
  3. They are part of a 'moving' community on the Camino and don't want to be seen to 'let the team down'.
  4. They are taking part in something that millions of others have done, many who perhaps had much greater hardship.
  5. Around them they may see others who are suffering more than themselves, but whom are not giving up.
  6. They may have travelled considerable distance and incurred a lot of expense to get there.

I suspect it is the internal 'promises' they have made that keeps them going.

I recall a very powerful moment in 2018 when walking with Pat. On reaching Fromista she really couldn't walk anymore, she was in tears. (Plantaar Fasciitis and knee problems). Even painkillers and anti inflams were not helping.

She needed medical help and rest.

I suggested we taxi forward to Carrion, effectively getting a day's rest and where we could visit a Doctor and Physio. Which we did. And stayed there 2 nights to get another rest day.

But it was on the way to Carrion..........

You'll recall the Camino follows alongside the road. Just a gravel track. Of course driving on the right hand side of the road, we were just metres from the Camino.

We passed Pilgrims of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Many of them.
We passed Pilgrims who were hobbling.

As time passed, on the short journey I could sense the mood and emotion from the back seat. You could feel it in the air.

Once we arrived in Carrion, Pat looked at me with tears in her eyes and said.

"Don't ever let me do that again"............
 
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alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I walk for the joy of it. I became spiritual towards the Camino on my first walk, and it has stayed with me. I am very thankful for that. Every new Camino is joy.
 
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ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
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Astorga to SdC 2015
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
My driver when I started walking caminos in 2005 was the historic and cultural aspect. After my first I said never again, but I still do, hopefully when the pandemia is controlled.
Since the church was in position of owning/buying architecture, music, art for decades the only way to get a glimpse of this history is through religious institutions. So I think I have the right to take part in what all those artists have done through decades even if I am a believer or not.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
Gr65 from le Puy to Figeac 2013
Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
Some thoughts.......

  1. They have made a commitment to themselves.
  2. They have made a very public commitment to family and friends.
  3. They are part of a 'moving' community on the Camino and don't want to be seen to 'let the team down'.
  4. They are taking part in something that millions of others have done, many who perhaps had much greater hardship.
  5. Around them they may see others who are suffering more than themselves, but whom are not giving up.
  6. They may have travelled considerable distance and incurred a lot of expense to get there.

I suspect it is the internal 'promises' they have made that keeps them going.

I recall a very powerful moment in 2018 when walking with Pat. On reaching Fromista she really couldn't walk anymore, she was in tears. (Plantaar Fasciitis and knee problems). Even painkillers and anti inflams were not helping.

She needed medical help and rest.

I suggested we taxi forward to Carrion, effectively getting a day's rest and where we could visit a Doctor and Physio. Which we did. And stayed there 2 nights to get another rest day.

But it was on the way to Carrion..........

You'll recall the Camino follows alongside the road. Just a gravel track. Of course driving on the right hand side of the road, we were just metres from the Camino.

We passed Pilgrims of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities. Many of them.
We passed Pilgrims who were hobbling.

As time passed, on the short journey I could sense the mood and emotion from the back seat. You could feel it in the air.

Once we arrived in Carrion, Pat looked at me with tears in her eyes and said.

"Don't ever let me do that again"............
Some of us do this every day at home so it is not a great suffer. Do you not walk for hours for leasure where you live?
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I walk for the joy of it. I became spiritual towards the Camino on my first walk, and it has stayed with me. I am very thankful for that. Every new Camino is joy.
Alex, I think you have expressed very nicely what most of us are actually saying in this one little word..."joy".
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
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(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Rob, have I missed the point? I thought your question wasn't why do people walk their Camino, but rather why do people who have truly bad injuries continue walking.?

Yes. That was David's original question and my answer was in response to that.
I'll edit it to make that clear.
 
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CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Some of us do this every day at home so it is not a great suffer. Do you not walk for hours for leasure where you live?

I think the question was more around why people continue to walk when suffering, in pain...... rather than walking for leisure.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
So I wasn't really thinking of normal adventure hardships but serious debilitating pain and similar - pain that at home one would go to the doctor then take a few days off work, that sort of level - yet I have seen and tried to treat many who won't even stop for 48 hours to heal but insist on carrying on, even if they are in tears - it is that level I was wondering about

Two years ago I had to stop walking the Camino del Norte when I was just a little over 100 km from Santiago because of bad shin splints. I had stupidly continued on for four days after the initial injury, but realized that it would be even stupider to try to continue and risk some kind of permanent injury. (I probably would have been fine if I would have taken a day or two of rest before it got so bad that I could barely walk a block) Maybe the decision was easier for me than a first time pilgrim because I had already walked into Santiago twice already.
Some of us do this every day at home so it is not a great suffer. Do you not walk for hours for leasure where you live?
I walk 5-10 miles every day at home and thoroughly enjoy it.
 
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Camino Frances 2005,2008,2010,2015.camino Portuguese 2007 .primativo2012.camino Norte 2009.sjpdp to finisterre and muxia 2007. Le Puy to jpdp 2006. Via francigena vercelli to Lucca 2014. Lucca to Rome 2016.
Why?
Why did I not give up on our first Camino over 15 years ago?
Nothing to do with religion ..we just like to walk

Still asking myself that question but back then the thought never even entered my head despite the dreadful pain from the blisters on the toes, the heels and indeed every part of my feet ...

Back then, the day's revolved around the feet but the adrenaline and the the magic of the Camino just kept us going ...indeed going too quickly I suppose as we walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 22 days...not sensible really....and continuing on to Muxia this time had to be shelved.

Even in Burgos I was unable to walk around the cathedral for sheer pain
I swallowed ibuprofen like smarties and gave myself an ulcer and it was sheer luck that we did not get shin splints or other ailments
Some days I was so slow that it took 10 hours to get from one place to the other and hubby must have had the patience of a saint .....and he never had even one blister!!
Catching a bus or even resting for a day never even entered our minds...the stupidity of youth! ....well youthful 55s

I lost 2 toe nails, had a pressure ulcer on my heel and another sore on the side of one foot and I swore that I was never going to walk another Camino!

I learned a lot from that Camino re boot size, feet dressings, changing of socks, dealing with a hot spot etc etc and never had a blister on any subsequent Camino or long walk

Hobbling into Santiago was the most emotional feeling ever on finishing a walk ..and this feeling I still get when entering Santiago

In retrospect I just think it was just sheer bloody mindedness and determination that got us through

would I walk again in a situation like this again?
I don't think so .....
Well I'm older and wiser now aren't i??
 
Year of past OR future Camino
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(May 2016)
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VdlP (2022?)
Back then, the day's revolved around the feet but the adrenaline and the magic of the Camino just kept us going ...

How very true! on my first Camino I was down to about 10 kms a day for the final 100 kms.
(all kinds of foot and joint issues)
But the idea of not finishing never entered my mind.
I would just walk slower, and more carefully.....

What is that? Who knows.
Any ideas yet @David ?
 
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As I considered the question, oddly enough, I think it is this very need to struggle through the challenges is the exact reason I do it. As said, if you are at home and there are obstacles it is easy to pack it in and go home and call it a day. When I commit to flying to Spain and walk I accept that I simply must finish, come hell or high water. The snow, rain and mud add to the experience and in the end add to my sense of accomplishment at the end. Hmmm... provocative question, indeed.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
Some of us do this every day at home so it is not a great suffer. Do you not walk for hours for leisure where you live?

This raises an interesting element for me.

How much do you, we, I associate 'walking' with the Camino?

People often ask me where I walk at home? Or I must enjoy hiking?

They are surprised when I say that (for me at least) the Camino has nothing to do with walking.

That's why I don't do it at home. What would be the point? What would be the purpose?

It might not be a great analogy, but (for me at least (that really needs to be an acronym F.M.A.L.)) it would be like........

Visiting a wonderful church along the Camino, where I sat in peace and pondered over the millions of Pilgrims who had walked here, prayed here, found inspiration here.......where I had felt the presence of all those souls over the centuries and a higher power motivating me onwards.....

and someone saying, "Oh, so you must like visiting 'interesting' buildings at home then"?

"Have you seen that new office complex on George Street? fantastic architecture.........."


To spin that quote from the Gypsy character in 'that' Movie.

The Camino has nothing to with walking..........nothing at all.

Just my spin on it all ;)

It will be interesting to see where this thread leads, and if we discover what keeps the 'walking wounded' walking...
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
This raises an interesting element for me.

How much do you, we, I associate 'walking' with the Camino?

People often ask me where I walk at home? Or I must enjoy hiking?

They are surprised when I say that (for me at least) the Camino has nothing to do with walking.

That's why I don't do it at home. What would be the point? What would be the purpose?

It might not be a great analogy, but (for me at least (that really needs to be an acronym F.M.A.L.)) it would be like........

Visiting a wonderful church along the Camino, where I sat in peace and pondered over the millions of Pilgrims who had walked here, prayed here, found inspiration here.......where I had felt the presence of all those souls over the centuries and a higher power motivating me onwards.....

and someone saying, "Oh, so you must like visiting 'interesting' buildings at home then"?

"Have you seen that new office complex on George Street? fantastic architecture.........."


To spin that quote from the Gypsy character in 'that' Movie.

The Camino has nothing to with walking..........nothing at all.

Just my spin on it all ;)

It will be interesting to see where this thread leads, and if we discover what keeps the 'walking wounded' walking...
Interesting.
For me, walking was the draw of the Camino. I love to walk, and the idea of traveling using my feet as transportation, and seeing a country from the ground had me hooked when I first heard about it.
However, I don't consider myself a hiker or a "backpacker." I live near the PCT, and people ask me if I want to do that, but since there are no albergues with real beds and showers, the answer is a firm "no."
But, while I do go for a long daily walk (sometimes a hike) I really prefer to have a destination, even if it's walking to the craft store to pick up more supplies for making masks or Christmas gifts.
 

FRM

How do you walk the Camino? One step at a time.
Year of past OR future Camino
O'Cebreiro to Santiago (2014)
Pamplona to Sahagun (March 2019)
Sahagun to O’Cebreiro (March 2020)
"Have you seen that new office complex on George Street? fantastic architecture.........."

To spin that quote from the Gypsy character in 'that' Movie.

The Camino has nothing to with walking..........nothing at all.

Just my spin on it all ;)

It will be interesting to see where this thread leads, and if we discover what keeps the 'walking wounded'
I would argue that walking allows us to experience much of what makes the Camino special, especially for those walking for “non religious“ reasons. The interaction with Spanish culture and history, friendship, the inner peace that comes from putting one foot in front of the other for hours in end, and so much more. What walking does is allow us to more fully experience what the Camino has to offer. While the Camino is not about walking, it about the journey and that journey is best traveled on foot.

frm
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I would argue that walking allows us to experience much of what makes the Camino special, especially for those walking for “non religious“ reasons. The interaction with Spanish culture and history, friendship, the inner peace that comes from putting one foot in front of the other for hours in end, and so much more. What walking does is allow us to more fully experience what the Camino has to offer. While the Camino is not about walking, it about the journey and that journey is best traveled on foot.

frm

100% with you on that one. that's why I just 'don't get' using a bike on the Camino.
It's too fast, and not grounded.....

To me walking is merely the 'vehicle' that allows us to experience the Camino.
I often refer to the CF as my 800 km long 'church'.
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Year of past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Great thread, David - thank you for the idea and for the opening of the discussion. Wonderful replies so far - thank you to all.

I’m not a religious pilgrim and so the Camino experience is obviously a very different experience for me as it is for someone who is religious.

Many pilgrims walk in dedication of loved ones and some have pressed on while injured - I am one.

To explain I put forward the story of my first camino in 2012 from Leon to Santiago.

Before I left Australia for that camino I set the intention of walking the Camino for my dear Mum and Dad and vowed that I would dedicate my Camino to them for giving me my life and for loving me and caring for me both as a child and as an adult. I thought of them every single day and reflected on so many aspects of my childhood and family as I walked - times of laughter; times of tears and always feelings of gratitude as the memories flooded in as I walked.

A few days in it became obvious that something not great was happening with my left knee. I started taking ibuprofen and managed to walk the daily distances set by our small group until the third last day when we walked 33kms. The second last day we walked over 30kms and the last day 10kms. I knew I was in serious trouble but I wouldn’t stop - to walk every step of that camino and to receive my compostela, in honour of Mum and Dad - was everything to me. I hobbled into Santiago and received my compostela with tears of utter joy - all the pain was worth it.

On returning home to Australia I was diagnosed with a Grade 4 femoral stress fracture which took months to heal and made me wonder if I could ever do another camino. I was also diagnosed with osteoporosis after my first bone density test. As David knows, I did do another camino - and not just one - with David’s kindness and generosity with assistance in the form of Spot, the trailer David made me.

Some would say that I was completely stupid to have pressed on while injured and I accept that. It was a choice I made and I felt - and still feel - that walking that camino in memory of my parents - is something that brought me so close to them even though they had both died many years previously. It was a profound experience. I will never regret the decision to press on.

There are many pilgrims like me who walk the various caminos in memory of loved ones and like me, most have paramount in their minds and hearts to walk to the finish - and to dedicate those caminos to loved ones who live on in our hearts.

Would they press on while injured? Who can say ...

Buen Camino to all from Oz -
Jenny
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
  1. They have made a commitment to themselves.
  2. They have made a very public commitment to family and friends.
  3. They are part of a 'moving' community on the Camino and don't want to be seen to 'let the team down'.
  4. They are taking part in something that millions of others have done, many who perhaps had much greater hardship.
  5. Around them they may see others who are suffering more than themselves, but whom are not giving up.
  6. They may have travelled considerable distance and incurred a lot of expense to get there.
Yes. Especially 3, 4, and 5.

I've never experienced more than normal aches and pains. But I know myself. And I would probably keep going in spite of injury. It's a minor character flaw — a combination of stubbornness and the sunk cost falacy — which are 1 and 6 above.

On the positive side, I also deeply see the value of facing difficulty and darkness. Because I'm not a Christian I don't frame it in Christian terms, but it amounts to the same thing that you were describing, David.
 

Nick B

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2019
1607510534083.png

Day to day life for most people is one of drudgery, walking especially amongst the history, culture and people of the Camino is a break from that drudgery. Hence the reason most Pilgrims reflect on their Camino experiences quite often once they return to their life of drudgery, at least that is my take on why Pilgrims carry on in difficult times.

The latter the return to drudgery the better.
 

Antonius Vaessen

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2016 VdlPlata - Sanabres
2016.Primitivo
2017 Salvador
2018 Norte (to Sobrado)
2019 Norte again
To me the answer is rather easy: people set goals for them selves and want to reach them whether it is walking a Camino, climbing Mt Everest, running a marathon within 3 hours and so on. If it is s goal that involves a big investment in time and preparation the motivation to reach the goal increases
 

Dsavid Keyte

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino de San Salavador (2015)
Camino de la Costa (2016)
Camino Lebaniego 2017
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
Determination not to fail, although I must admit, a couple of times, I accepted a lift
 
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GraemeHall

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés 2017/18; Portugués 2019
I'm so sorry. When I saw the original post and its headline, I read it as, you know, why do pigrims carry on about the hardships so much? Why do they carry on about being cold, wet, hungry, sore etc etc. Such a complaining mob!!
I am reminded though of my favourite Camino graffiti, under a bridge near Logroño I think:
La douleur est inevitable, la sufferance est optionelle.
Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
I carry that with me through my life now, and it hit me between the eyes when I felt the (optional) suffering in the Face of one particular medieval crucifix in the Cathedral at Léon.
 

Phoenix

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2014, CF: partial
2016, CF
2018, CF: partial
2019, CP
I don't know ... if someone were jogging in a park and their knee went would they carry on in terrible pain because they had promised themselves 30 laps and there were still 15 to go? No, they would stop.

So I wasn't really thinking of normal adventure hardships but serious debilitating pain and similar - pain that at home one would go to the doctor then take a few days off work, that sort of level - yet I have seen and tried to treat many who won't even stop for 48 hours to heal but insist on carrying on, even if they are in tears - it is that level I was wondering about - some years ago there was heavy snow in April all the way to Burgos and I saw a pilgrim trudging along, ankle deep, entering town ... his face looked awful, he was freezing - yet he was carrying on (mind you he could have been carrying on to get to the train station!!).

This is beyond anticipation of Santiago, or Camino family - is it merely to do with the fear of failing? Of letting ourselves down?
Or is there something in the core being of the human mind, a tenacity and bravery, that elsewhere displays itself more commonly as acts of heroism?
Yes, a jog in the park is different, much different than Camino. I offer two points of view, religious and non-religious, although in truth, the two are intertwined.

October 2019 - I walked 100+ miles on the CP after suffering a significant meniscus tear on the 3rd day out of Porto, treating it during the day with only ibuprofen and a pint of beer every couple hours. It was the most physically painful experience of my life. With each hour of each following day, the pain grew more severe. Yet, I truly believed that this was the path I was meant to be on; God was teaching me something about Him and myself, and that made the pain worth it. It became the benchmark against to measure all other physically painful experiences.

From a non-religious POV, I had to stop and come home from the CF the year before for physical reasons, and I didn't want a repeat performance. I came to finish what I started and, eventually, dragged my injured leg all the way to SdC.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Another reason why I keep on when it is hard: the kindness and generosity of local people who see my need and respond to it generously: for example, the woman who stopped her car when I was walking the Invierno in the pouring rain last fall and insisted on giving me all of a large bag of biscuits. The biscuits were not what I needed, but the generosity of the woman was. I felt myself, then and later, supported and guided in my pilgrimage by the concern and kindness of the local community. My spirit was renewed by this kindness. For my part, I carried out my promises to various local persons to carry their prayers to Santiago. It was a wonderful reciprocity. I long to return to this walking, and sharing.
 

El Cascayal

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo May 2019
Invierno November 2019
Ingles April (2020) postponed
Another reason why I keep on when it is hard: the kindness and generosity of local people who see my need and respond to it generously: for example, the woman who stopped her car when I was walking the Invierno in the pouring rain last fall and insisted on giving me all of a large bag of biscuits. The biscuits were not what I needed, but the generosity of the woman was. I felt myself, then and later, supported and guided in my pilgrimage by the concern and kindness of the local community. My spirit was renewed by this kindness. For my part, I carried out my promises to various local persons to carry their prayers to Santiago. It was a wonderful reciprocity. I long to return to this walking, and sharing.
 

El Cascayal

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Primitivo May 2019
Invierno November 2019
Ingles April (2020) postponed
Alberta Girl, was this the woman? We encountered her just after Ponte Taboada. Such generosity of Spirit and kindness. She asked us to pray for her daughter when we hugged Santiago. ACF69154-07EA-45DF-9CC5-69AC953A4875.jpeg ACF69154-07EA-45DF-9CC5-69AC953A4875.jpeg
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017 Burgos to SDC April 2018
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...

Excellent question David. Just an initial thought before I read the rest of this thread. One cannot ignore the fact that the average person walking a Camino has invested a considerable amount of planning time, expense, hopes, fears and sharing of plans with significant others. It may be that quitting before accomplishing this goal is something that the average person imbues "stopping" with a sense of failure of proportions greater than most in the daily life at home.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
I think for some, they did not build rest days into their time allocated to get to SDC and so feel they must push on.

We won’t hear from those who did abandon their camino due to injury or extreme pain. Except I will say, I did once. I had hobbled to Livinhac le-Haut, on the Le Puy, where I decided in my misery that I was done. I hobbled back to Decazeville and caught the next train out.

I came to regret that decision. I felt like it was a personal failure to not finish. I returned to the camino a few months later and continued on, without the pain though. Not finishing something and thereby learning some humility is another life lesson.

A few years later, on another camino, I developed shin splints and hobbled across the meseta. When I’d had enough, my solution that time was to pause, hop on a bus/train to the nearest Decathlon where I bought a pair of running shoes with pronation support. I returned to my stopping point and continued walking again. 24 hours off the camino and the new shoes made all the difference; the shin splints started to heal.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Thank you for this post and the questions, David. These questions have been asked of me many times over the past few years. On my first Camino, I felt pressure to finish, as I had just retired from a very stressful job and career, and my colleagues had commissioned an icon of St. James to be written for me as a retirement gift. [Icons are written, per ancient tradition, never painted.] I had also lost my best friend from university days to cancer a few weeks prior to starting out and was carrying a rock in her memory to leave at Cruz Ferro.
I have run cross-country and road races for over 50 years, but walking/trekking is not the same. In a race, you are on your feet for 30 minutes to a few hours and then you are done with it. With the exception of a couple of ultra-relays I've done, there is no getting out of bed with achy muscles and doing it again the next day. Or doing it for 35 days in a row.
I got serious blisters (despite lots of preparatory walking in the boots) in the first week of the CF. Thought about quitting in Burgos, but instead, jettisoned the hiking boots and bought a pair of trail running shoes. By Cebreiro, I had developed some serious shin splints, and after consulting my brother back home (an ER doc), decided to keep on going. The agony of going down the hill to cross the bridge into Porto Marin will never be out of my memory; however, that evening I went on the web and searched for home remedies for shin splints. Went out and found some bright green duct tape and a razor (had to shave the leg before putting on that duct tape). Walked the rest of the way into Santiago with bright green tape holding together my aching shins.
My friends and relatives have all had the same question -- Why did you keep going? Stubborn, proud, fear of weakness, wanted to see it through to the end, wanted to keep walking with my friends (some of whom advised me to stop walking), a test of character, didn't want to let down my old colleagues (all of whom were Catholic and traveling with me vicariously). The reasons are endless, but in the end, and after another Camino and several other long treks, I've come to the conclusion that it really is about exploring the World -- one step, one person at a time, where they live, in whatever condition they are in and reveling in the natural beauty of each place. And your excellent question remains to be pondered anew on my next Camino!

Buen Camino and Feliz Navidad!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Sept 16/ 2016. Leon to Santiago . Sept/2019 SJPDP to Santiago.
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
I belive that,for me, an important reason is a " thank you" for all the things that He has provided for us. the wonderful singer, Sissel, asks in a song, " how can I give thanks for all the things he has done for me. Can I suggest that one of the reasons ,but not limited to, is love. I will do any thing that he asks me to do, I will go anywhere he asks me to go because of that love. You asked for reasons may I offer this. You have helped ,including myself, many people thru your posts, you may never know who whose people are but you carry on doing this. God blessed you with this gift and you have used it wisely. I would suggest you are a reason. Ian .
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Alberta Girl, was this the woman? We encountered her just after Ponte Taboada. Such generosity of Spirit and kindness. She asked us to pray for her daughter when we hugged Santiago. View attachment 88928 View attachment 88928
This may well have been the same woman, but I cannot say for sure. It was raining so hard that I was just trying to express my gratitude and let her know that one bisccuit would be enough. She insisted on giving me the whole bag-full, but she did not requests prayers for anyone in Santiago.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
I don't know ... if someone were jogging in a park and their knee went would they carry on in terrible pain because they had promised themselves 30 laps and there were still 15 to go? No, they would stop.

So I wasn't really thinking of normal adventure hardships but serious debilitating pain and similar - pain that at home one would go to the doctor then take a few days off work, that sort of level - yet I have seen and tried to treat many who won't even stop for 48 hours to heal but insist on carrying on, even if they are in tears - it is that level I was wondering about - some years ago there was heavy snow in April all the way to Burgos and I saw a pilgrim trudging along, ankle deep, entering town ... his face looked awful, he was freezing - yet he was carrying on (mind you he could have been carrying on to get to the train station!!).

This is beyond anticipation of Santiago, or Camino family - is it merely to do with the fear of failing? Of letting ourselves down?
Or is there something in the core being of the human mind, a tenacity and bravery, that elsewhere displays itself more commonly as acts of heroism?
If we are talking this level of suffering, then the answer is, of course, that many pilgrims do stop early and take breaks or head home, perhaps to continue or try again another year. As for those who don't, there are just some people that are at the end of the range when it comes to tenacity. It may be a factor of their personal character, or they may have reasons for doing a Camino (religious or otherwise) that drive them to continue in the face of extraordinary hardship, and it may also relate to the encounters they have on their Caminos that help give them the wherewithal to continue.
 
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Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2021)
I would argue that walking allows us to experience much of what makes the Camino special, especially for those walking for “non religious“ reasons. The interaction with Spanish culture and history, friendship, the inner peace that comes from putting one foot in front of the other for hours in end, and so much more. What walking does is allow us to more fully experience what the Camino has to offer. While the Camino is not about walking, it about the journey and that journey is best traveled on foot.

frm
I never consider the Pacific Crest trail or Appalachian Trail as long-distance walking options: the Camino or bust! It is my be all and end all. It is my Way. And in pain? Oh, baby, those unbroken in Lady Scarpas on that long day to Los Arcos! Those ill considered Estrella trainers! The Osprey pack which never fit! Toe blisters in teeny weeny icky places! Snorers x1000. Cold showers! I c a n n o t. wait to get back!
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
Why do you walk the Camino and why do you suffer. The statement that you understand why religious people suffer for the Camino but why would a non believer suffers, that in itself describes in part what the camino means. If I would have read what you wrote before my first camino I would have thought what an arrogant so and so. Just another reason why I have rejected religion and religious faith. Now I read what you wrote and I know I must read it again and again to understand where you are coming from. The Camino taught me this lesson. I have walked 5 times and have spent 3 days in hospital, suffered injury, had a severe case of Bronchial spasms that left me gasping for breath for days and with uncontrollable coughing fits. But still I walked and never even thought of stopping.
I have learned that Pilgrimage means happiness, inner peace, beauty, friendship and love. It can just as often means pain, struggle, hurt. I have found myself walking in previously unimaginable conditions that in "normal" life I would never have even thought of leaving my house let alone walking 25k in driving rain and wind gusts to 80K or snow, wind, and ice with temperatures of 25-30F. Camino for me is not sleeping in private rooms, or treating myself to Paradors, (may I stress I am just talking about myself) or having a Michelin star meal in Burgos or Leon. It is living as simply as possible, making a sandwich on the side of the road sitting on my backpack, eating a banana or kiwi for energy, and having a wonderful dinner in a donativo or making dinner with new friends with the most basic cooking facilities in a municipal albergue. Why do I suffer, because it is part of the experience, it is pilgrimage and I believe it is not meant to be easy. Why do I experience pilgrimage because it is one of the most important parts of my life that without it I would have a hole that can never be filled anywhere else. Life is joy and pain. Home is love and hardship. For me the Camino is home.
 
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tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2018
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
I think there are many reasons but I think of the mountaineer when asked why he does it. Because it is there was his reply. I started my first camino as a what the heck, lets try it. Gave up in the mud and rain of the meseta when I got to Castrojeriz and went home. My wife, knowing it would bother me to have not finished, sent me back to finish it but it was different, suddenly without warning it became a pilgrimage. And so I walked concentrating often on just the next step. I was lucky to have had no problems with blister or muscle pains and strains but exhaustion was a problem. Cant stop because its as far to go back as it is to go forward. Good nights sleep and yesterdays exhaustion is forgotten so on I went. My first walking companion, Mees, God rest him, was solving problems so on he walked. My second, Robert, had PTSD and was sorting his mind out so on he walked. Almost every person I walked with had some sort of life problem on their mind so on they walked as they thought about life. It is a fact that walking can be the best form of contemplation or meditation so that keeps people going. Then there were the other types I met. There is a thing in Scotland known as Munro collectors. They climb one munro after another till they have done them all. On the camino there are trail collectors. PCT, appalachian etc and the camino is just another addition to their 'cv'. Then there are those who want the bragging rights when they go home telling all and sundry how great they are for walking the camino. Not many of those but I have met a few. Of course there are those who just want to be Martin Sheen. The camino is made up of all kinds just as life is and most people keep going in life no matter what the hurdles
 

Walton

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
To quote a famous movie;

"You don't choose a life Dad, you live one"

That said, along with all the excellent answers here, which in part or almost in full, describe my reasons for walking the Camino, but there is something else, something much bigger and unexplainable;

There is some kind of force pulling me towards Camino walking that I cannot explain. It's there, you know it and you can feel it and it just tugs and tugs and tugs until you cannot resist any longer and off you go, to challenge yourself, face the unknown and follow your spirit.

Living your life sounds like a good idea.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I am enjoying every post on this thread, and each one resonates in part, or in full, what I feel about the camino...encompassing the hardships, emotional impact and the joy. Much of what we feel is often unspoken, but it binds those of us who participate on this forum together in a type of "familial" sort of way.
 
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Allyson Hughes

just one more...
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances fall of 2017
Le Puy en Velay Aug-Sept 2019 and
Camino Frances Sept.-November 2019
I for one am not religious but have a deep spiritual connection with God as I know the Oneness and Power of this Spirit. Walking the Camino connects me to the larger arena of people and places in that power, love and peace. There is no noise from my busy life in Seattle, no To Do lists, no distractions, no house filled with stuff.....just the path before me and the body that travels it, which I am in awe of. I had shin splints and called on the power of prayer and in 3 days it was gone. It was such a delight to be....every day on the route.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Year of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Some of us do this every day at home so it is not a great suffer. Do you not walk for hours for leasure where you live?

David said
In a sense they [catholics] expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

I am catholic, but I do not look for or seek suffering or want The Camino to be difficult when I walk? For me The Cross is meaningless without Resurrection! We prepare physically for our camino at home. We set reasonable goals for our abilities and ages and we sleep well in private accommodations. We eat two good meals a day. Our pace is slow and mindful. We wonder at those spiders creating such huge and intricate webs, at the meticulous construction of high hanging birdnests in bell towers and at the seemingly undisturbed slow and steady movement of snails crossing.....and at all of God’s creatures! We gaze at rainbows, pick up colorful stones and celebrate the Moon and the plethora of stars that help to light our way long before dawn. Oh and those natural cathedrals we hike up and the delightful views of God’s creation they put to song in our hearts.

Yes, we hope for such experiences, but we accept what comes....snow storms and 75km winds, 20 straight days of rain, sore musles, footpain, heatwaves, or injury or sickness.....whatever comes.

And as Christians we are also called to be good samaritans on The Camino as well as in life. That means looking out for other pilgrims on The Way and at home, who may be in distress, who may not be able to afford a good meal, or who are alone, feeling isolated.
 
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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
I hurt, therefore I walk.

There are all sorts of pain in life and on the Camino, sometimes we need to rest and recover, but sometimes we need to walk to shug off the pain.
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
...along with all the excellent answers here, which in part or almost in full, describe my reasons for walking the Camino, but there is something else, something much bigger and unexplainable;

There is some kind of force pulling me towards Camino walking that I cannot explain. It's there, you know it and you can feel it and it just tugs and tugs and tugs until you cannot resist any longer and off you go, to challenge yourself, face the unknown and follow your spirit.
I could have said that myself, but you did it. Better.

I have been hurting (my knee, fixed by Voltaren pills). It was never in my mind to stop. My goal was Santiago. I made it. Determination and love for the Camino.
 
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fransw

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
The question of the "internal driver" is indeed a complex one. I mean one other driver that struck me is that people try to walk the Camino as a sort of " last remedy" to free themselves from an unresolved grief such as the loss of a child, death of parents, a divorce...They went to psychiatrists but were not satisfied with the result and now they want clear their mind. I became very emotional when they told me their story, I cherish these rare rich experiences .
 

alexwalker

Forever Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
The question of the "internal driver" is indeed a complex one. I mean one other driver that struck me is that people try to walk the Camino as a sort of " last remedy" to free themselves from an unresolved grief such as the loss of a child, death of parents, a divorce...They went to psychiatrists but were not satisfied with the result and now they want clear their mind. I became very emotional when they told me their story, I cherish these rare rich experiences .
Yes, I have also had those experiences. More than one has cried on my shoulders on the Camino. Happy I was here for them. The Camino has eased the burdens for many, IMHO. Why it is so, is hard to explain. There is a Way...
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
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(May 2018)
VdlP (2022?)
I had shin splints and called on the power of prayer and in 3 days it was gone. It was such a delight to be....every day on the route.

On my first Camino, I had physical problems, but the emotional challenges were much harder to deal with.
At times I just wanted to throw in the towel and go home.

At one stage it got to me, and I knelt and prayed at the trail side.
I felt a bit of a fraud. I'm not a church goer or anything.

I just asked for help, a sign that I should continue, anything!

3 minutes later it came, and again and again.

I got the message and almost skipped the rest of the way......
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
What is the internal driver?

A fellow countryman, Ed Hilary, when asked a similar question in 1953 replied to "knock the bastard off".
Some 30 year earlier and about the same "bastard", George Leigh Mallory said "because it is there".

Whatever the outward motivation, an internal one is to knock the bastard off, just because it is there.

if someone were jogging in a park and their knee went would they carry on in terrible pain because they had promised themselves 30 laps and there were still 15 to go?

@David, I think you know there are many answers to your question.

One answer is by @Robo at post #68 above and @Allyson Hughes at post #61 above.

Mine is more prosaic. After pulling muscles in a hip I carried on in fits and starts until a hospitalero called an ambulance. I went to a nearby English speaking country, got advice and treatment, kept walking and returned 18 months later to complete. And the following year started from Canterbury Cathedral in the general direction of Rome.

I suspect some 500 or so years ago I would have settled down where I was, got better, got employment and carried on when I could. And then return home many, many years later.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia mana'wa'nui (be strong, confident and patient)
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés, Oct 2020
Very interesting thread with many answers that echo my own thoughts. I finished my first Camino (F) only a month ago and am still waiting for the tendonitis around the base of my Achilles to recover (it is definitely improving!). This started just before Leon, I think after days of walking on the 'flat' - slopes were definitely easier on my feet. I am, by nature, a bit stubborn and, setting myself a challenge, the only person to let down, would be myself. However, I did have the added wish to complete the Camino to 'play fair' to all the supporters who were donating to MSF as I walked. Despite a rather painful finish, it is still one of the most fulfilling things that I have done. I continued with the help and encouragement of others whom I met on the way. I remember two young pilgrims passing me, whilst I was taking a ten minute break. Five minutes later, they had walked back and offered to carry my bag (I thanked them gratefully but declined) - I had never seen them before. Another couple booked me in, to make sure I had somewhere to stay, arriving two hours after them. Why did I walk on? I needed to do it. Would I do it again? Certainly! I think I have the bug - Buen Camino.
 
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fransw

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
Yes, I have also had those experiences. More than one has cried on my shoulders on the Camino. Happy I was here for them. The Camino has eased the burdens for many, IMHO. Why it is so, is hard to explain. There is a Way...
Indeed, I have never experienced that on any other hike. We have all scars of life but here on the Camino I could feel the goodness of mankind, a state of Grace when people through their effort try to give sense to what happened to them. I know this may be volatile but so what...
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
really cheap
and not very healthy, even though it says no sugar added.

I think it is a pity England, at least doesn't have some other language to fall back upon. Maybe French and Latin are the defaults.

One of the issues of using a language from somewhere else, especially for advertising, getting it wrong as so often happens, this case included.

So, @David, kia kaha (please do the translation yourself).
 

Harland2019

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May "2019"
There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough.

I briefly met a young lady from Luxembourg last year on the way up to Hospital da Cruz, We chatted, I slowed and walked with her as she was struggling a bit on the ascent but as 2 others came by I chatted with one and she with the other. By the time we got to the top there was no sign of her. I sat for a while intending to walk with her but couldn't remember what she looked like under her poncho! I ended up walking with another woman for a while until I worked out it wasn't her! The reason for the above is that when I got to Santiago she spotted me and thanked me for walking with her but told me that she had "given up" but thought that perhaps if she had someone to walk with her she could have continued. My biggest regret of the walk, so next time (whenever we can walk safely again) I'll pay a bit more attention to individuals who may be struggling and just need a bit of encouragement or someone to walk alongside.
 
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RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
Do you mean "religious" or "spiritual". Just because I don't subscribe to a particular religion does not mean I am not spiritual. For me it was a sense of peace and purpose. I found it to be a peaceful, purposeful place to delve into my inner self. To reflect on my spiritual, emotional and relational life's journey.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I've been following this thread for a while.

I am intrigued to see that it evolved into the question of why pilgrims in general carry on while suffering. When the original post clearly asked why non-religious pilgrims carry on.

It made it sound as if non-religious pilgrims are an anomaly on the Camino; as if religious drivers are so natural and self-evident that the contrary has to be studied in awe and carefully explained. I really thought it was a strange thing to ask.

I don't get why so many departed from the original question.

/BP
 

Harland2019

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May "2019"
Perhaps it is that many, me included and non-religious, don't ask fellow walkers if they are religious. I haven't a clue whether the young lady from Luxembourg was religious or not. But you are correct I departed from the original question.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I've been following this thread for a while.

I am intrigued to see that it evolved into the question of why pilgrims in general carry on while suffering. When the original post clearly asked why non-religious pilgrims carry on.

It made it sound as if non-religious pilgrims are an anomaly on the Camino; as if religious drivers are so natural and self-evident that the contrary has to be studied in awe and carefully explained. I really thought it was a strange thing to ask.

I don't get why so many departed from the original question.

/BP
@Bad Pilgrim
I did not find the original question nearly as clear as you appear to have. I am a religious pilgrim, but the description given in the original post of who a religious pilgrim is and why he, or she, carries on, does not fit me:
A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James.
I am not a Catholic, in the sense in which I believe the word is used here. I did not experience my call to pilgrimage as a total surrender to God, but as a response to a calling. And as a biblical scholar by education and intellectual conviction, I do not go to Santiago to visit the remains of Saint James. I found the original question of interest, however, in the context of my sense of calling, perhaps because I find the sense of a calling to pilgrimage to Santiago to be more complex, more interesting, and, I believe, more applicable to a variety of pilgrims, than the definition given in the original post. So I claim my priviledge as a forum member to respond to the original post in the way that it is meaningful to me, looking at why so many who begin the walk continue it when it becomes very challenging to do so.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2017
I don't care for movies. So when a co-worker mentioned that she had seen a movie she thought I'd like, I gave her a withering look. "I know, you don't like movies, but I think you might like this one." We had a bit of discussion, I got the name, and put it on hold at the library - #384. When I finally got it, I thought, I DO like anything having to do with travel, and this was travel, in my book. A half hour into The Way, I thought, "I could do that" - walk. And I did. And I did it multiple times. I turned 69 on that first Camino, had arthritis pretty much everywhere, but never had a blister or shin splints. I did fear for my life once when an enormous dog, who was just protecting his flock of sheep, charged me from behind snarling and barking - I just kept walking, and when I reached his "line", he left me alone. At Eunate, I had my first Camino Moment. Something seemed to be taking care of me. I started paying more attention - to everything. When my arthritis flared, I took rest days, or a bus, or a train, or a taxi. I guess I'm not a "true" pilgrim. But gradually, I realized that I was not totally in control; whatever was happening had a purpose. I let go of the planning (mostly) and just walked. That sense of trust has continued...even during Covid-19. I'm ok, whatever happens - and I like that spiritual feeling.
So, @David , I'm not religious, but I am spiritual, and I'm not sure how to distinguish... to be a bit trite, it is what it is with many iterations... Sometimes labels bother me, just like movies... ❤️
 
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David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
@OTH86 - sounds like a true pilgrim to me ;).

Religious and spiritual? They are the same in the sense that religious are also spiritual. In the common sense 'religious' usually means the spiritual takes place within the framework and beliefs of a church religion and spiritual means that search, journey, takes place outside such a framework.

What my question was about was that I could see how someone within the Catholic church, accepting the teachings and their place within it, carries on through extreme difficulties but wondered what it was that motivated someone outside that framework, that surrender to, well, pilgrimage as penance in a way, carries on.

I think the question has been answered from many viewpoints - how brave and stubborn and marvellous we humans are!!
 

Bristle Boy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
David....I like you.
You have asked a question and started a discussion which has been interesting to read and l have enjoyed the contributions.
Firstly, I include myself as spiritual rather than Religious. I am a Christian man who has a mixture of beliefs which do not necessarily sit squarely with any one religion...Thats me.
Now your question.
I have undertaken physical challenges for achievement... climbed mountains, fell walking, long distance cycling, two day distance canoeing that sort of thing. I take pain and discomfort as part of what I do It is to achieve an objective. a destination.
I have my own personal pain threshold which was higher when I was younger.
I am driven to not fail in my endeavours and to achieve. For that I push myself through adversity and discomfort because it is my character and i see this as constituent in what i do.
I'm not sure i have answered your question but here, for what they are worth, are my musings on what drives me through pain to achieve an objective.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I continue to enjoy reading each post on this thread as it's interesting to find out what motivates (drives) a person to walk, experiencing varying types of hardship along the way to the finish...non-religous reasons or religous.
 

Dilbin

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Irun to Santander del Norte
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
Hi. Like yourself I dont have an answer. However on one occasion I had a horrid time from the very first step on my second day's walking. My feet were agony each and every day for 14 days. Im not complaining though. It was the most spiritual of all my times on the Camino. Each day I would get up bright and early full of enthusiasm. I also did many 30 plus km days during that time. Prior to that Camino I lost my sister and soul mate and on those long and painful days I felt I was walking for the two of us so maybe thats why I found it so spiritual. Just my experience.
 

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PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Year of past OR future Camino
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
I do experience that we, as fellow pilgrims , in support of eachother, endure any hardship that we are able to...within the realm of our own personalities and level of composure...

So there is no why......we are simply able....

BUT.....and this ones a biggie.....how many pilgrims stop and quit in lack of direct support needed....in a both practical and mental manner....there is no viable statistic showing those numbers....and in that lies a hugely important future potential....keeping more of us on path...not overdoing it.....beeing more in tune....adressing the small before it gets big....

Ultreia!
 
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I do experience that my fellow pilgrims endure any hardship that they are able to...within the realm of theire own personality and composure...

So there is no why......we are simply able....

BUT.....and this ones a biggie.....how many pilgrims stop and quit in lack of direct support needed....in a both practical and mental manner....there is no viable statistic showing those numbers....and in that lies a hugely important future potential....keeping more of us on path...not overdoing it.....beeing more in tune....adressing the small before it gets big....

Ultreia!
Hi David

In answer to your question "why do pilgrims carry on when it is really hard"?

My simple answer my friends is "because it is really hard".

Safe travelling to all pilgrims now and in the future

Sicada
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...

My first one was more difficult than I anticipated and that first climb up into the Pyrennes was a real eye opener. It's easier now but still not easy! In my last camino I decided to get the bus up to the Cross close to Roland's Fountain. So so much easier for my old and tired bones. Knees starting to give me problems!
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Every day is a journey and the journey is home.....Basho

Japanese isn't the easiest language to translate (translators say)

Here are two versions - I think that I prefer the second but not sure.

The moon and sun are eternal travellers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who perished along the road. Still I have always been drawn by wind-blown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering.


The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them. Many of the men of old died on the road, and I too for years past have been stirred by the sight of a solitary cloud drifting with the wind to ceaseless thoughts of roaming.
 

Bad Pilgrim

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
What my question was about was that I could see how someone within the Catholic church, accepting the teachings and their place within it, carries on through extreme difficulties but wondered what it was that motivated someone outside that framework, that surrender to, well, pilgrimage as penance in a way, carries on.

On this Forum, it's generally accepted that pilgrims have multiple reasons for walking. Hence, there are multiple reasons to keep on walking when pain/injury occurs. Was it really that puzzling to you that pilgrims who are not Catholics (?!) have internal drivers to push on?

Well this pilgrim carries on to threads that make sense to him from the start.

/BP
 
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4 Eyes

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF from SJPP 14, VDLP from Seville 15, DN&P from Irun 16, Portuguese from Lisbon 17, CF from SJPP 18
David thank you for starting a thread that generated so many interesting responses to read in these lock down times. You are a very likeable person. Your question got me thinking too. While I echo many of the sentiments already expressed by others, I have one thing to add on the question of why carry on in the face of hardship: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Trait. (Distinguishable from Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder which would typically mean one cannot get started walking at all much less finish in the face of hardship.) I think this cuts across religion, spirituality or lack thereof. Those with a healthy dose of OCPT will carry on in the face of hardship regardless of religion or spirituality. Those who don't will quit. That's my uneducated theory and I'm sticking to it!
 
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Mycroft

Active Member
Why?
Why did I not give up on our first Camino over 15 years ago?
Nothing to do with religion ..we just like to walk

Still asking myself that question but back then the thought never even entered my head despite the dreadful pain from the blisters on the toes, the heels and indeed every part of my feet ...

Back then, the day's revolved around the feet but the adrenaline and the the magic of the Camino just kept us going ...indeed going too quickly I suppose as we walked from SJPDP to Santiago in 22 days...not sensible really....and continuing on to Muxia this time had to be shelved.

Even in Burgos I was unable to walk around the cathedral for sheer pain
I swallowed ibuprofen like smarties and gave myself an ulcer and it was sheer luck that we did not get shin splints or other ailments
Some days I was so slow that it took 10 hours to get from one place to the other and hubby must have had the patience of a saint .....and he never had even one blister!!
Catching a bus or even resting for a day never even entered our minds...the stupidity of youth! ....well youthful 55s

I lost 2 toe nails, had a pressure ulcer on my heel and another sore on the side of one foot and I swore that I was never going to walk another Camino!

I learned a lot from that Camino re boot size, feet dressings, changing of socks, dealing with a hot spot etc etc and never had a blister on any subsequent Camino or long walk

Hobbling into Santiago was the most emotional feeling ever on finishing a walk ..and this feeling I still get when entering Santiago

In retrospect I just think it was just sheer bloody mindedness and determination that got us through

would I walk again in a situation like this again?
I don't think so .....
Well I'm older and wiser now aren't i??

Another reason why I keep on when it is hard: the kindness and generosity of local people who see my need and respond to it generously: for example, the woman who stopped her car when I was walking the Invierno in the pouring rain last fall and insisted on giving me all of a large bag of biscuits. The biscuits were not what I needed, but the generosity of the woman was. I felt myself, then and later, supported and guided in my pilgrimage by the concern and kindness of the local community. My spirit was renewed by this kindness. For my part, I carried out my promises to various local persons to carry their prayers to Santiago. It was a wonderful reciprocity. I long to return to this walking, and sharing.
This resonates with me, Albertagirl. It may not be the answer to David's question, but it is the reason I keep planning yet another pilgrimage. Pilgrimaging keeps me centered, and keeps me mindful that I have no control over what happens in the universe except for my personal choices. But most importantly for me, that "the Camino will provide." Every pilgrimage I have taken has at least one outstanding story of blessings received through the kindness of strangers. My sense is that I notice these blessings/am more prepared to receive these blessings because I am out of my routine. (I am sure they happen all around me when I am home, but I am lost in that fog of life, and don't see them.) It is connected to my sadness that we now are using mobile phones to tell us where to turn, and to book ahead so we can be sure we have a bed for the night.
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Great thread, David - thank you for the idea and for the opening of the discussion. Wonderful replies so far - thank you to all.

I’m not a religious pilgrim and so the Camino experience is obviously a very different experience for me as it is for someone who is religious.

Many pilgrims walk in dedication of loved ones and some have pressed on while injured - I am one.

To explain I put forward the story of my first camino in 2012 from Leon to Santiago.

Before I left Australia for that camino I set the intention of walking the Camino for my dear Mum and Dad and vowed that I would dedicate my Camino to them for giving me my life and for loving me and caring for me both as a child and as an adult. I thought of them every single day and reflected on so many aspects of my childhood and family as I walked - times of laughter; times of tears and always feelings of gratitude as the memories flooded in as I walked.

A few days in it became obvious that something not great was happening with my left knee. I started taking ibuprofen and managed to walk the daily distances set by our small group until the third last day when we walked 33kms. The second last day we walked over 30kms and the last day 10kms. I knew I was in serious trouble but I wouldn’t stop - to walk every step of that camino and to receive my compostela, in honour of Mum and Dad - was everything to me. I hobbled into Santiago and received my compostela with tears of utter joy - all the pain was worth it.

On returning home to Australia I was diagnosed with a Grade 4 femoral stress fracture which took months to heal and made me wonder if I could ever do another camino. I was also diagnosed with osteoporosis after my first bone density test. As David knows, I did do another camino - and not just one - with David’s kindness and generosity with assistance in the form of Spot, the trailer David made me.

Some would say that I was completely stupid to have pressed on while injured and I accept that. It was a choice I made and I felt - and still feel - that walking that camino in memory of my parents - is something that brought me so close to them even though they had both died many years previously. It was a profound experience. I will never regret the decision to press on.

There are many pilgrims like me who walk the various caminos in memory of loved ones and like me, most have paramount in their minds and hearts to walk to the finish - and to dedicate those caminos to loved ones who live on in our hearts.

Would they press on while injured? Who can say ...

Buen Camino to all from Oz -
Jenny
Jenny, it doesn't happen easily, but your message brought tears to my eyes. 🇦🇺
 

Eire604

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 2017
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
We didn’t walk the Camino for purely religious reasons. I suffered from shin splints as soon as we left St John’s which then caused my knee to bother me. But for my wife and I we both had athletic backgrounds and quitting was really never an option. When things got difficult we’d put our music on and encourage one another and basically place one foot in front of the other. Meeting other peregrinos and talking to others on the road certainly helped. But having faith in God certainly helped.
 

David

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
My memory of why I carried on way back in the year five, my first Camino, was anger. I had a motorcycle accident when very young and still have a duff knee. I walked from Moissac to Logrono (or rather, some miles before Logrono) and the knee finally gave out (I didn't know about McDavid hinged knee braces then!). Worse, it made me so unstable in the pain that I fell and twisted my ankle on the same leg.
There was a stream, so after a while of doing and saying all the things we do when hurt I put my foot into it, way past the ankle - was so cold but I held it there for some while, then laced my boots back on super-tight (I wore boots back then). I stood and walked slowly but normally - (first aid tip - when hurt always walk normally!) and stayed overnight, then the next day I went to Decathlon and bought the cheapest klunker of a bicycle they had. Woman's frame, heavy, I had a rack put on it, went back and booked another night in another refugio and next day strapped my pack onto the bike and carried on westwards.

The anger? I had walked halfway, some 320 miles, and I wasn't going to let a duff knee stop me from getting to Santiago. NOTHING would stop me getting to the cathedral. I had worked out that with a bike my knee would move only in two dimensions and I could cope with that, it was the three dimension swivelling that brought the trauma.

I am almost ashamed to write this but I did not pray to God for help, or to ask why, or even to complain! I was filled with adrenaline and, honestly, anger (not at anyone else but at me and my failure and at my frail and damaged body) - I had made no promises to anyone, so no expectations, no prayers to carry with me - and so I cycled, and each day I improved, and I became lonely as on a bicycle you never ever meet the same pilgrims ever again - except sometimes other cyclists and back then they were all crazy adrenaline junkies - and some 320 miles later I arrived in Santiago and went to get my Compostela, all strong and brave and successful in having completed regardless of the odds and also rather opinionated and then was gently and softly asked "and why did you travel the Camino?" and to my utter utter surprise I fell into floods of tears, deep deep tears .... and my eyes were opened, like a dark veil being removed .. and I surrendered, and I was hooked, utterly utterly hooked.

So my story - you may call it stubbornness, or dedication, or someone else in control, but to me at the time (until the pilgrim's office) it felt like anger.

So my reasons. ;)
 
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Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
Japanese isn't the easiest language to translate (translators say)

Here are two versions - I think that I prefer the second but not sure.

The moon and sun are eternal travellers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat, or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. From the earliest times there have always been some who perished along the road. Still I have always been drawn by wind-blown clouds into dreams of a lifetime of wandering.


The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them. Many of the men of old died on the road, and I too for years past have been stirred by the sight of a solitary cloud drifting with the wind to ceaseless thoughts of roaming.

How beautiful. Both of them. Thank you.
 

La Brique Jaune

Official member of la confradia del pinza del oro
Year of past OR future Camino
2017: SJPDP to Finisterre
(202?): I hope and need to
Hi David,

Thanks to sharing your experience in your last post, it's explain the why of your question.

I thinks the same thing that bring us on the Camino, like a deep wound mix-up with a spark of the idea of walking the Camino, keeps us to continue:

I planned my Camino 3 years before I did it and without knowing when I will do it !, and I had this little stone in my desk drawer. I don't call it "my" stone anymore, All I put in it belongs to her now. When I drop her at "La Cruz de Hiero" it was the most spiritual experience of my life. It's was simply between me and the my future me and nobody else. So, I thinks the idea to abandon before "La Cruz" could not appears to my mind, I had a job to do.

Surely the previous moments helps me to continue: likes the ones mentioned above. The simplest of simplest thing can give courage: For me, the honk of a driver truck :) in this cloudy and cold morning
or the litle tap on my shoulder by an old man saying buen Camino valiente. The sames events can be interprets differently depends on what we are (at this time or where we come from) or in what we believe.

This multicultural aspect is a beauty of this "caminata", no matters who we are: a smile, an helping hand, a free orange and a hurting feet are pretty most the same for everybody. I really think this helps to walk and that means for me: I'm belong to something bigger, personally I call it Humanity.


PS: I don't relate it to your experience but I was thinking about "Footprints In The Sand" poem. It touches me even I'm not religious.

La Brique
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Hi – I have been wondering, pondering really, for a while now. For the religious carrying on when Camino is difficult, terribly difficult, is simple. A Catholic, for instance, has surrendered to a God greater than themselves – they are surrendered and go on pilgrimage with the intention of arriving at the remains of St James for deep personal reasons and every step, everything that happens, is part of that surrender and that mission.

In a sense they expect it to be difficult, to have obstacles to overcome, possibly want it to be difficult, as carrying on and finally arriving in Santiago can have more meaning … more proof of intent. This I can see.

But what I cannot see is why non-religious pilgrims carry on when those obstacles and possible suffering really strikes – walking in pain, walking through day after day of awful weather ….

… what drives them on?

What is the internal driver?

I offer no answers as I don’t know but I would like to open this to your thoughts ...
I can't speak for others, but in my case it was about three things in particular. The pain of discomfort, in my case 14 days of shin splints, was a challenge that enabled me to connect to deeper emotions of pain. This helped me release some deeply felt anxiety and grief.

1. My mum had passed away 5 years previously, she was born in Spain close to Villafranca del Bierzo. I had a need to express my sadness at her passing, so doing it with my feet along a route that would pass through the area where she was born seemed to be the way to go. She had grown up in poverty and then lost her father when she was just 5 years of age. She had to suffer the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. Although I grew up hearing about her experiences, I had never really connected with the emotion of what she lived through. Knowing the Camino would be difficult, I felt it would at least help me connect with some of her past and above all feel her spirit - and it did this in ways I was truly unprepared for, but extremely grateful for.

2. My own life had recently been thrown a curved ball in January 2017, when I was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, so I felt the need to prove to myself or at least test myself. I had a successful operation but the follow up chemotherapy for 6 months took away a lot of my energy and self - confidence. On moving to Spain from the UK one month after finishing chemotherapy took a big toll on me. I wasn't working and a kind of depression set in. I battled to shake it off in the coming months, with the support of my wife and by getting back into practising Tai Chi. Then an opening appeared to walk the Camino Francés in September 2018. The moments of quiet reflection, despite being a talkative person, enabled me to process what had happened to me and rediscover the real spirit within me once again. The lack of sleep, discomfort and niggling injuries wore down the false bravado and I began to melt into a softness and sweetness that started to nourish my body and soul, it was the perfect antidote to the toxic chemotherapy treatment and all the psychological damage that followed.

3. I had become isolated on moving to Spain without a job and going through my post-cancer struggles, so walking and listening to others who had their own stories of tragedy and disillusion somehow helped me wake up from my feelings of self-pity. Also, those pilgrims I met who were full of energy made me laugh and smile a lot, they helped me value how precious it is to be alive and still have dreams.

So, without following a particular faith, the pilgrimage experience is something that helps heal pain, although part of that process is to feel pain. On the Camino our pain can be shared, expressed, released and understood better. On feeling the physical pain on the Camino the emotional pain is buried deep inside our heart (and stored as tension in our mind and body), so it starts to find a route to the surface in order to be heard, felt, acknowledged and finally released. In our daily lives we often have to behave a certain way, keep up an image of composure or control, so the grief and pain that may have befallen us gets buried, where it often can create illness and further harm. As we push ourselves to overcome all these things while on the Camino we find something rouses our spirit to awaken from it's sorry slumber or it's compliant obedience to what's expected of it. Slowly, slowly, step by step, transformation starts to take place. The joy and creativity lies just the other side of the pain; by pushing through, day after day, we start to glimpse the light the other side of the darkness and we start to become sources of light ourselves. At least, that's how it made me feel about it.
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Year of past OR future Camino
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Jenny, it doesn't happen easily, but your message brought tears to my eyes. 🇦🇺
Thank you Mycroft for your beautiful post - it touched my heart. For you, I post a photo of Mum and Dad - Pauline and Jim. The photo was taken by a street photographer in Sydney when they were courting (to use an old-fashioned expression) just after the end of WWII - they met when Dad was in rehab after returning from the POW camps In Japan - Mum was one of the nurses who nursed him back to health.

Best wishes from Oz -
Jenny
 

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AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@MarkyD, thank you for your story: I was most reflective as I read through.

On reaching your third paragraph my heart lept up as I recalled similar experiences on my journey over 18 months to honour the request my late wife had given me.

Kia kaha, kia māia, kia manawanui (be strong, confident and patient)
 
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