camino de santiago, denali, pilgrim, Walking

With People


My Myers Briggs type is ENFJ. My Enneagram number is two. If you know anything about either of those, then you know I like to be around people. Although I suspect my “E” isn’t as strong as it used to be, I’m still an extrovert. What’s surprising to me is that a lot of the activities I enjoy the most I often do alone. I run alone for the most part. I walk alone (of course, Denali is with me, but she’s not much of a conversationalist, it’s a bit one-sided). I quilt alone. I read alone and I write alone.

I don’t mind doing these things alone. In fact, I actually prefer it that way. However, when those activities are done, I’m ready to be with people! I want to talk about my pace or what I saw or what quilt I’m working on or what book I’m reading.

On Saturday I went on a Camino prep walk with people for the first time. It was different. Not bad or good, just different.

I won’t have to worry about this in Spain, but I had to keep Denali out of the way. When it’s just the two of us, we get in sync. When a few more people were added to the mix, her excitement level increased and I had to be more aware of her next moves.

Now that I’ve walked with others, I understand the idea of walking your own pace. Of course, that’s never been an issue when I walk on my own. This time, however, there were four other people around me. When we’re in Spain I may not be walking with them day-to-day – we’re all encouraged to walk our own pace and not speed up just to stick with a particular person or group. Walking just a little too fast can have serious implications on your feet! I felt like I wanted to go a little faster – not to get somewhere, but to be quiet. I find that my prep walks have been times of contemplation for me, so adding in other voices was a bit jarring.

However, I also really enjoyed having people to talk to! The time passed a little faster, the walk was entertaining and the company was lovely. At one point we talked about listening to music while on the Camino. I might – I’m not sure I can go three weeks without listening to music! But my mom said she will want days of silence and thought she’d use her ear buds to keep people from talking to her. Our friend Barb said it’s okay to just let people know that you want to walk in silence – people will respect that. I was reassured by that comment – some days I may want conversation partners, other days I may not. Both are acceptable and available to me.

When we leave for Spain in June I will know four people out of the fifteen. I will be on a journey with people who are mostly strangers to me. However, we are connected because we are all pilgrims. According to the dictionary, a pilgrim is “a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.” Santiago de Compostela doesn’t hold much importance for me (yet). I’ve never been one to get too excited about saints or their burial plots. People have been walking the Way of St. James since the 9th century, but I only heard about it a year or so ago. So, am I a pilgrim?

Yes. I’m traveling to a sacred place but I don’t think it can be found on the map. I’m traveling to a sacred place that doesn’t have an end point or a destination. Sure, we’ll get to the “end” of the walk. Yes, I’ll have completed a portion of the Camino de Santiago. But I don’t think that’s what I’m walking toward. I think this will be an inner journey playing itself out on a long, long walk. Each day will look the same, but each day will be oh so different.

Even though I appreciate doing a lot of things in my life alone, I’m grateful this is one I’m doing with people. Although I know four people already, the only one I really know is my mom and I am sure there is a lot more I can learn about her. I’m excited to learn more about my fellow pilgrims. I’m preparing to support them and be supported by them. Although I think doing a walk like this alone is intriguing, I know myself well enough to know that I need to be with people. And, when I need a break, I know myself well enough to step away and find some solitude.

One more step on the journey…



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