When you walk the Road to Santiago, it feels like you are living a miniature copy of your life, except for one thing – the people you meet along the way are mostly doing it for the same reason as you – to find out what is missing in their lives. It could be different for everybody, though, some stories people tell you are very similar to each other and very similar to mine.
There are some people that do this walk for a religious reason. St.James is believed to be buried in Santiago de Comopostela, and for thousands of years pilgrims walked the Way to get an Indulgence. I was surprised however to see only a few people that do this for that reason.
The next group are backpackers, that are mainly attracted by cheap food and accommodation mixed with a sense of adventure, so walking the Way becomes an inexpensive way to spend a month or so in Europe.
The third group would be sportsmen, and you can easily spot them: they wake up early in the morning, take their walking sticks, leave albergios first and mostly talk about the number of kilometres they walked and the number of days it took them. They rarely talk to other pilgrims, as their mission is plain fitness.
Another group that I find quite interesting is successful businessmen. Quite a large group. When I talked to a few of them, they told me that the main reason they decided to do this walk was to get a taste of “real” life that many of them had almost forgotten. They wanted to feel how it would be to sleep in a room with other people in it, eat simple food and drink cheap wine, worry about the many blisters and how to find the way to a next albergio, instead of thinking all the time about signing the deals and the stock exchange rates. And they really enjoyed the Walk. All of them.
I do feel for them. I wanted the same thing. The only difference was – I was not a businessman.
However living in a modern city and working in a corporate environment you start losing the feeling of what you truly are. You earn money and exchange it for food, a roof over your head and an endless number of “Made in China”‘s. You are not even 30 years old, but your life is already a “groundhog day”, and it has been for a number of years. Yes, you have achieved a few things, you have got your dream life, but apparently this doesn’t make a person happy. There has to be a total emptiness within, if this kind of lifestyle makes one happy, as the sense of “self” is lost and replaced with the objects of material life that one desires. But the question is – once you have got all of your little wants and satisfied your needs – what’s next?
I didn’t know the answer back then. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. It had to change somehow. Doing the pilgrimage seemed ideal: it was something different, unusual and unpredictable. It was something that no one I knew had even done. Something absolutely new and unique. So I quit my job, bought tickets and in less than two months we landed in France where we started the Walk.
To my surprise I met quite a few pilgrims like me. Different age, nationality, walks of life, but one thing we all had in common – we were all the lost souls that came to Santiago to find the forgotten meaning of our lives and to find ourselves and our place in this world. I was glad I was not alone on the road to wakefulness.