During this morning’s training hike, the thought occurred to Ben that it might be useful to consider and draft a number of ‘principles’ for our Camino walk.
For this article, our definition of principles is a set of guidance for our attitudes and behaviors, leading to a desired state. That desired state is ‘our’ painted canvas.
To some, this approach seems intuitive, just like how the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People resonated with them. To others, this may appear to constrain life, to limit its serendipitous nature. For the latter group, we offer this thought – consider principles to be like sextants which sailors of olden days used to navigate by the celestial stars.
Our principles for our Camino:
- Slow down ….…. my pace, my actions, my thoughts
Our normal world is hurly burly, ruled by clocks. We multi-task, believing we are being very productive and accomplished. Our brains and minds race at the speed of light, to the point that rarely are we able to be present and smell the roses. As we step onto the Camino, let’s dial down our internal speed dial, way down. Smell the café con leche, swirl and taste the sips. Explore, linger, probe and touch, taste, smell, hear. There are cultures galore around us, the culture of the village, the culture of the marketplace, the culture of foods. ‘Once I stopped rushing through life, I was amazed at how much life I had time for’. Perhaps slowing the actions, the pace, will slow the mind.
- Listen intently ……… with my heart
Let me practice daily with my walking partner. Firstly, let me hear every single word spoken. Then, let me hear more than the words. Let me hear the hurts, pains, the happiness, the expectations. And as my ears hear all these, let my heart join in, so I know that words spoken sometimes are wrongly chosen. Listening with the heart motivates me to encourage the hopes and dreams left hanging at the tip of the tongue. Perhaps a simple 5 minutes hearing drill (and test) over breakfast will set the ears on the right path for the day. And no judgements…
- Be authentic ……… to and for myself
There’s no one to please, no one to compare, no one to compete against. There is only me. And the Camino. A Camino that slowly un-wraps the onion layers on oneself. Let’s get past the layers dealing with employment, residence, nationality, names, age, ethnicity, marital status. Let’s get to the heart of the onion. Based on actual perceptions, behaviors, decisions and actions in life situations, what do these collectively reveal my deepest values to be? Is there anything that I want to tweak or change? Who we are right now, isn’t who we can become. Perhaps allocating specific journey stages to shape and strengthen certain values, with feedback and encouragement from one’s Camino partner, will help in that maturing authenticity.
- Be grateful ….…. and express it
Is my life situation perfect? No. Can I imagine some worse case scenarios for my current life situation? Yes, most definitely yes. So, I have a choice. Burden myself with worry and anxiety over the possibility of these worse case scenarios, or be grateful that I am where I am. It’s like a kindergarten question – there’s no way I can get this choice wrong.
Gratefulness is both an attitude and a heart. One can choose to either see a half glass full or focus on the half glass empty. The reality of the half glass is the same, but the perception cum-attitude is a choice. When that attitude moves to the heart, then, it becomes gratitude as it cannot but express itself outwards, in our words, actions and outlook. Perhaps a simple first step is to approach all these testing life scenarios with a song in our heart. And dance a bit, or sing out loud along the Camino while you are at it!
- Practice RAK …….. (Random Acts of Kindness)
Have you ever been on the receiving end of a RAK? Didn’t that moment, change the day for you? If you haven’t, don’t worry, kindness is like a boomerang. Being kind just attracts kindness. It’s like the law of gravity, one cannot escape it.
It’s amazing how you can change your day by plotting, like supervillain Gru in Despicable Me, to perform a RAK. It’s like you are planting a smile-seed around you, as you visualize how the recipient’s day will unfold after that RAK moment. You have the power! Use it or lose it!
Pause here. Will these five principles change our Camino? Undoubtedly. Do some of these principles come naturally, and some need a bit of work? Undoubtedly. Will other principles strike us while we are on the Camino? Most certainly. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t get it perfect. Life isn’t.
Create your own principles list to guide you on your Camino. And we aren’t waiting till the Camino to apply these principles. 😊
B & J