Lessons Learnt From The Camino

On Sunday morning I got to thinking (once more) about what I learnt from my first Camino. At the same time, I asked myself if I was remembering what I had learnt. Unfortunately, I realised that I was not. Here are the lessons that came to mine:

  1. Appreciate water, and drink it regularly
    This is hard: day-to-day how does one truly appreciate a thing? It’s easy with a person – you show them kindness, etc – but with a thing?
    As for drinking water regularly, I know that I don’t do that. For several weeks now, I have been meaning to look on-line to see how much I am supposed to drink per day but have not yet done so. I have in the past, only to forget the information and drink less.
  2. Eat healthily
    I would say that my diet isn’t too bad, but it still involves regular amounts of sweets, crisps and fizzy drinks. They need to either stop or at least slow down until I get a sense of balance in my diet.
  3. So Far As You Are Able, Look After Your Body
    I have failed badly in this. In May 2018 I developed a muscle complaint in my right thigh that my doctor suggested I go to physiotherapy for. He gave me the requisite form to fill out and send off but I didn’t do anything about it: I didn’t want to take the time off work. As a result, the complaint got worse. It didn’t stop me from walking the Camino but it did make me need Ibuprofen on a pretty regular basis and it did make trekking polls a fairly essential part of my kit. When I got home from the Camino, I should have sent the form off then but still didn’t for the same reason as before. I am only now doing something about it. Yesterday, I sent the form away. The physio’ will be on the NHS so I will have to wait a while for a response but hopefully they will be able to alleviate the problem if not cure it. After nearly two years of doing nothing I have to admit that I just don’t feel deserving of a cure.
  4. Travel Lightly
    This has multiple meanings.
    On a day-to-day basis it means keep as clean a desk as possible, throw away any paperwork you don’t need, get rid of any possessions – whether it is tech, books, or anything else – that you don’t need. All this is important as I am a bit of a hoarder. I do try to be tidy but so far it is more of an on-off thing than a permanently on, if you see what I mean.
    Travel Lightly also has a deeper meaning, for example, don’t let yourself be attached to material possessions, don’t buy anything except for what you really need (whether on account of beauty or utility or anything in between). As with the day-to-day meaning, I currently get rid of what I don’t need on an on-off basis. In the depths of my heart, I love what I have too much. I know this to be true because whenever I am ill and start thinking about worse case scenarios I am sad at what I will lose by dying. A Christian who is truly aligned to God should not be thinking in this way.
  5. Be Prepared to Make New Friends
    Since coming home from Santiago I have not made any real effort to make new friends. I definitely need to think about this more and then come to a conclusion and then act upon it. But why must I make new friends? That’s a good question with lots of answers, one of which is because I am not, and don’t want to be, a recluse.

So, five lessons learnt from the Camino. What next? First of all, don’t be surprised if I come back to this subject in another post – especially if I think of more lessons. In the meantime, I am going to use this post as an opportunity to ask myself how I can implement the ones above. For example, I have just looked up how much water should one drink per day. The website said two litres (three pints) so that’s what I am going to try and do. What about the other lessons? Let’s see.

The Rise of Skywalker

After writing this post, I wasn’t going to go and see The Rise of Skywalker but in the end I decided ‘Why not? It’s the last episode of the Star Wars saga (The Skywalker part of it, anyway) so let’s give it a go’.

I took my seat in the cinema and ~ well, I have to say that while I was in the cinema, I did enjoy myself. The action moved at a breathless pace and it was good seeing Rey and the gang (that sounds like an 80s band, doesn’t it!) one last time. The special effects were top notch, light sabre duels will never disappoint, and there were some funny and tender moments to dwell in.

Unfortunately, the film is a sugar rush movie; there is very little in it that is truly nutritious.

What do I mean by this?

Well, as I said, the action moves at a breathless pace. And it keeps moving. It never stops: one daring exploit after another; one explosion after another; one planet, one ship, one fight after another. The film never pauses to catch its breath, or to let its characters develop. The best films combine action and character. The Rise of Skywalker didn’t. I wouldn’t say that the characters existed simply to service the action – the film wasn’t that bad – but they were definitely subservient to it.

For me, character development provides the nutrition of a film because it’s through them that we grow. Like sweets, explosions are great fun – very addictive in their way – but you don’t learn about the human condition through them. Hence, The Rise of Skywalker‘s sugary nature.

The Rise of Skywalker would have been a superb film if its director J. J. Abrams had learnt from The Bourne Ultimatum. There, Paul Greengrass provides a masterclass on how to combine action and character. He does this simply by paying attention to his script to make sure the two are in alignment. Abrams, by contrast, seems to have said, ‘we start at A and end at Z; how do we get there in the loudest way possible?’.

Having said all that, The Rise of Skywalker is the first of the three sequel trilogy films that I would be prepared to buy and put in my DVD library. For all its flaws, something in the film worked and I would like to watch it again to try and uncover what that something is. Plus, however much I like the film or not, Star Wars IX is, by virtue of being the last part of the Skywalker saga, a culturally significant film that anyone who likes film and science fiction ought to own.

What next? Well, as for me, I simply move on. As per my last post (link above), The Rise of Skywalker wasn’t for me, and that’s fine: Deo Gratias, I stopped hating the sequel trilogy last year. I won’t move on very far, though: I still enjoy reading about the Star Wars universe, and especially seeing the memes created around them. There are a lot of super talented people out there.

  • For another take on The Rise of Skywalker, visit my friend John’s blog and read his first class review here

Camino 2: Taking a Dog

My walking companion for Camino 2 would like to bring her dog. Can it be done? Is it practicable? To find out, I turned to the Camino Pilgrim Discussion Group on Facebook, of which I am a member. Heres my post,

I was wondering if anyone here has walked the Camino Frances with a dog and if so what advice you would give to anyone else contemplating doing the same. 

Alternatively, even if you haven’t, what advice would you give/books about the subject you would recommend.

Over the next 24 hours or so I received 41 responses. The vast majority of them were negative: don’t take your dog at all; it’s too hard for them. A handful were neutral about the matter and another handful offered useful advice about what to do if you do take a dog. I have screen shotted those replies to send to my friend.

As the replies came back and the negative responses piled up, my friend suggested that if the Francés is too difficult perhaps we could walk the Santiago-Finisterre-Muxia-Santiago route. That would take about ten days and allow for shorter and slower days – ideal for four paws, and, no doubt, two legs as well.

If we do decide to walk from Santiago to the sea and back again does this mean that a second Camino Francés is out of the question? I can’t speak for my friend, but I would still like to walk that route again. Maybe it will be possible to do both routes, me leaving SJPdP and joining my friend in Santiago or else me doing the Camino Francés at a later date. We’ll see; we’re at such an early stage of planning that neither may happen.

If you are thinking about walking the Camino with a dog, here are four links that I was given that might be useful: