A month ago I was walking the Camino de Santiago. I went on pilgrimage, walking 500 miles in 5 weeks. I still have a great deal to digest and write. Meanwhile, the following dispatch from Paul Salopek writing for the NYTimes, A Stroll Around the World, reminds me of what I gained by walking one step at a time across Spain.
Above all I am reminded that we were meant to move. Apparently our bodies were created to walk 3 miles an hour. Ironically, that's the same pace suggested for The Way. When you walk 15 to 20 miles a day, every day, day in and day out, you hit a certain pace that's yours alone. Some days I walked 3 miles an hour, others 4, and when it was pouring down rain or I was chasing a pilgrim who pinched my sticks (trekking poles) even 5.
Sitting in front of this computer I want to get up and move again. Sitting in the car in traffic I want to get up & move again. I walked my way over mountains, along creek beds, over Roman roads, through vineyards and working farms, around cow pats and puddles, along paved roads and highways, through small villages, in to and out of albergues, cafes, bars, farmacias & supermercados.
When you are outside and walking you are part of the natural world and the human world in a way you simply cannot be from inside a vehicle hurtling through space and place. There is an intimacy created by the close association we create, by the movement of physical body through physical space. I got accustomed to saying hello to cats, dogs, chickens, cows, horses, men, and women as I followed the yellow arrows & other images that mark The Way.
I realized that I really like to move and the gym just does not do it. I wonder if Salopek needs someone to keep track of his camels.....Meanwhile, I'm looking for a job that is joyful, life affirming, prosperous and requires good use of one's body.