There is something magical in taking a break and wander through nature. I am currently feeling this wanderlust, not because I feel somehow unhappy, all the contrary, life has been treating me very kind in 2016. Nevertheless, I feel that I need to take a break, refuse to continue being a perpetual production machine. There is something deeply comforting in living in the present moment without the need to control, plan ahead and instead trust the everyday magic of life. This is why I decided to take kind of a mini sabbatical and follow one of the oldest cultural routes through Europe: the Camino de Santiago, from Geneva to Santiago de Compostela, actually a little further to the end of the world Finisterre. Over 2000 km (2118,7 km to be exact) walking every day for almost 3 months, from August until the end of October 2016.
It is the second time I will walk parts of the Camino de Santiago. I've done a shorter part in 2011, after I graduated from University, from Bilbao to Santiago. But this time things are different, the path is longer and I am not a graduate anymore, instead I am working on something that is eventually forming into a career. As a freelance creative worker taking such breaks is exciting and frightening at the same time. I need to trust that I am able to continue to build revenue streams once I am back, and even though I took care of that, there is a moment of guilt I am feeling for taking time off. I got used to be constantly on alert to answer messages instantly and, as I really love my job, I feel uncomfortable of wanting to be more than my job. It might be my version of a small rebellion against the one-dimensionality in which people see you. I believe that people need to be more than just their profession.
In our age that is obsessed with achievements, production and efficiency, once in a while, I feel the need to slow down and check if my values, my imagination and my bodily sense of being are still aligned. We measure our days and plans with our gadgets, we are constantly optimizing our routines to become some sort of super human. Sometimes I think that modern life moves faster than our thoughts are able to follow and we jump to conclusions because we lack time to really think about events or experiences. To take a long-distance hike means to measure everything in a human scale again and to refuse to accelerate on the pace imposed by technology. On my journey, 1 hours means around 5 km and a day's journey is limited through my ability to walk, my basic needs such as hunger, thirst or fatigue, and the daylight.
Rebecca Solnit wrote in her wonderful book Wanderlust: A history of walking "Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."
The act of walking is defined by much more than its purely transportational function. I frequently take walks to get my mind thinking. It seems that the bodily movement is connected to the creative spirit. The world reveals itself differently to the ones traveling by foot. Solnit describes it in her unique way: "Perhaps walking should be called movement, not travel, for one can walk in circles or travel around the world immobilized in a seat, and a certain kind of wanderlust can only be assuaged by the acts of the body itself in motion, not the motion of the car, boat, or plane. It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination."
I am really exciting for the next couple of months and I will be taking lots of notes during the journey. While on the way I am not sure if I want (I am trying not to be to much online) and will be able to actually write something here, so I will ask you to be a bit patient with me. I am sure I will return with lots of stories and write about them here or in my monthly letter. I set an Instagram account for the journey so that you can at least enjoy some images in the meantime. Until then, may you be able to take lots of walks this summer!