Pilgrimage

I’ve always been fascinated by pilgrimage. For as long as I can remember my life has been about enjoying the journey – an idea of a destination but making the most of the twists and turns that happen along the way.

I’ve never been hugely competitive: I want to do my best and step up when it matters, but I’ve never had a “winning at all costs” attitude. This means that I can enjoy doing things, just for the sake of doing them. My wide range of hobbies and experiences reflects this. That’s not to say I don’t feel nervous about doing something new, or joining a new group, but that I would rather try something than spend too much time wandering about it. I enjoy the doing and am less focused about the end result. Trust the training and you will be OK in the race. Start taking action and the opportunities will present themselves. Enjoy the journey.

A pilgrimage can have religious meaning to it, and there are well defined pilgrimage routes. Paul Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage” opened my eyes to travel in itself as facilitating a transformation even though it describes a journey along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which is definitely a religious route.

In simple terms and with thanks to the British Pilgrimage Trust:

“Pick a destination, set an intention and start walking”

There is nothing simpler than knowing that your task for the day is to get from point A to point B. I walked St Cuthbert’s Way earlier this year – a quasi-spiritual route, slightly off the beaten track – and discovered that a pilgrimage really gives a chance to re-focus on the important things in life. It could be down to the digital detox, keeping an active body, or abundant fresh air. Whatever it is it is a good combination.

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Modern day pilgrim. Day One: St Cuthbert’s Way

For me, travelling solo is made easier by having an intention, or tasks, or theme for a trip – a reason to do it in the first place. I’ve never expected a specific revelation but more revelled in the unexpected: places I wouldn’t have visited; people I wouldn’t have met and a story to tell when I get home.

And if walking is not your thing then take some time to observe the steps you’re taking on your life journey. Particularly if you are contemplating or starting a life change. What steps have you taken? How far have you come? What is your intention? If you bring this into the context of a physical journey, remember that it’s ok to take a rest day (or week, or month), it’s ok to feel frustrated that you haven’t made “enough” progress and it’s surprising how often you find you have reached your “destination” with no fanfare, and a realisation that it’s not quite what you expected.

And now? Your homework is to reset your pilgrimage destination – this could be a physical journey (no destination is too close to home); or a step towards your dreams – and to start “walking”.

Let me know how you get on.

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