Archive for January, 2017


CAMINO REFLECTIONS



Humility

One trick works when doing uphill climbs. Look down, as if tracing your steps. Somehow you forget how steep an incline you’re scaling. Just like in life — uphill climbs are struggles meant to humble ourselves. We struggle to reach the top but the best advice remains: succeed with your feet firmly on the ground. With heads bowed, humility is the true measure of a successful man. 


Listening

What is the best prayer while walking the Camino? I’d say the best and hardest is to listen. Everyday life has tuned us to many of life’s distractions. If only we can empty our minds of all these cobwebs that easily. It probably starts when our muscles begin to ache and the rhythm of walking dulls our senses to pull through. When we ache without suffering, we listen. The pain is dulled and we prep ourselves to listen. First to our body, then without warning, our mind opens up in prayer to listen. Prayerful thoughts without the prayer recitations. 

Mindfulness

A friend reminded me that communing with Nature is mindfulness. It comes after the initial pain and aches. One’s senses are heightened, fully engaged. Mono-tasking prevails. You walk, and mind how you walk. You look around and the beauty around you cheers you up. His presence felt with every lovely tree you pass, every stone and pebble you step on, every leaf felt crunching under your soles, every fragrance from the forest and woodlands you cross. 

Instant Familiarity & Openness

When you walk the Camino, you come across strangers who don’t feel like strangers. It’s not them. It’s YOU. The newfound “openness” within you offers instant familiarity. Walked my first Camino SOLO, and the familiar faces of fellow peregrinos made me feel safe and never alone. For a mile or two, you walk with some before bidding them “Buen Camino” – a cue you’d walk ahead or behind, depending on your pace. But for those 2 miles or so, you’re talking initially to a stranger who slowly transforms into a pilgrim buddy. Hardly asking about names, profession and status. Quickly and almost logically, these aren’t important details anymore. Pilgrim buddies rather talk about how long they’ve been walking, where they started, and how they feel. They may even share meals, clink beer bottles, laugh at jokes or pray together. This I miss. To others, don’t hesitate to walk alone. The Camino provides. God provides. 


The Gift of Time



 

Please do not grieve

For I have truly lived

Every single day & second

Not one moment wasted. 


I was born with some gifts

But later learned more tricks

To detach from wordly stuff

Love and harmony enough. 


I’ve seen snow-capped mountains

And far too many ancient fountains

Sunrises, glowing sunsets & moonlights

As pretty as the skies at twilights. 


Solitary walks my pleasures

Nothing fancy by any measure

In touch with myself, alone with my thoughts

While adding up all the naughts.


Yet there’s that time with you I relish

A memory I cherish 

Just as my hair turned gray

Unmindful even when things go astray.


I have gifted you with experiences

Plus memories & all the time I could give

Continue on, my loves, and understand

How precious is the gift of time.













Minimalism is the best idea I’ve come across of late. Tough. Not in any way easy. A friend of mine laughs every time I tell her I’m looking at my closet, agonizing which to give away. Indeed, we accumulate so much in this very material world. When I retired 16 yrs ago, I found shoes, bags, blazers, clothes still unworn, collecting dust in my closet. I saw JOY in the faces of those I gave them away to. I felt JOY seeing them wearing my stuff which I’ve ignored for months & years since I purchased them.


But minimalist-wannabe that I am, I confess the temptations are so present in this mad, mad world of consumerism. It helps that I dislike shopping. I find no joy in it. Neither do jewelry impress me. I bought a set before which cost me an arm and a leg, but wore it only 4 times that I even forgot I still have it! I buy what I need, rather than what I want. When I was still working, I remember a few of my managers teasing me — “Ma,am, your Jurassic phone is crying out to be replaced.” Or “Ma’am, this bag brand suits you better” followed by a look at my favorite, semi-worn-out bag. Once, I advised one of them to get an economy car that’s reasonably priced. He balked and joked “That (car model) isn’t even a car!” I was tempted to say I had one and I believe my pay is way higher than his.
Listen. I am comfortable. I eat well. I have several experiences tucked under my belt. I don’t Christmas-shop, but I can be generous. I travel light, and I don’t mind wearing the same wardrobe all the time. I spend on adventures and love sharing my experiences. I’ve convinced some of my friends to donate rather than exchange gifts. In my family (with the exception of the kids), we gift each other with “experiences” — a dining sponsorship, an adventure. I still have an unclaimed Sydney bridge-climb and a trip to Tasmania. If ever we shop, we prefer buying from small stalls rather than big malls.


I still have too much stuff. When I travel, I like the idea that I’m limited to a few wardrobe items, 2-3 pairs of footwear and a fixed budget. The less I can do without, the better. I discovered that we accumulate NOT for ourselves, but to please or impress others. How about pleasing those who may NEED the stuff that we only WANT?