600 Kilometres on foot
June 3rd I’m leaving my home, phone and belongings in Copenhagen to walk the Camino Pilgrimage in Spain. It has been in the back of my mind for years and when the subject casually came up during the first delicate conversations I had with a girl I met, I knew that the time was right and that she was my travel companion. Months later she became my girlfriend and we started planning the amazing journey together.
The Camino de Santiago also known as Route of Santiago de Compostela, St. James’s Way and many more are the names of any of the pilgrimage routes that lead to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Northwestern Spain. The route has many ramifications depending on your point of origin and chosen travel duration. Some people start in The Pyrenees and spend months walking. I would like to try that someday, but this time we only have 3 weeks at our disposal, so we chose the Northern Way following the Northern coast of Spain to cover the 600 kilometres from Santander to Santiago de Compostela.
I’m not religious in any way, but I’m a big believer in all kinds of retreats. They don’t have to be luxurious, fanatic or extreme in any way. The most important thing is the state of serenity. I’ve found that retreats are vital to my health and have become a mandatory part of my life the last two years and will continue to be in the future. The profound impact the journeys have had on my mental state, self-image and general train of thought is indescribable. I’m sure many people can achieve the same outcome at home by meditating or simply being mindful on a daily basis, but the prolonged equanimity that can emerge from a trip like this is quite difficult to attain and sustain in a busy everyday life.
Those of you who are familiar with my background, know that I have a history of addiction. They have come in all shapes and sizes during my life, but common to all are their origin: the need to escape myself. Most of my life I’ve spent running away from myself in search of something – anything – that could make me feel sufficient, adequate and enough. Low self-esteem has permeated my entire life and shaped the person I have become for good or bad. The devastating thing about low self-esteem is the demeaning inner voice proclaiming that you’re not good enough and that you somehow need to compensate for that. It’s an unending struggle, to be more than you are because being yourself is not really an option. If you feel worthless down to your naked soul you’ll do anything to cover up and mend the holes. I came up with all kinds of coping strategies to overcome my poor self-image but hiding my flaws and compensating for my lack have been the most consistent of them all. That type of behavior was expressed in everything from over-achieving, validation-seeking, perfecting, pleasing, procrastinating, avoidance, self-betrayal, competing and compromising on my values and dreams, to simply dressing up to appear more intriguing. They were all solutions I came up with to counterbalance my shortcomings. It became a personality I picked up throughout the years, but it was nothing else than a compromised version of who I really was.
I wrote the last part in past tense when I could just as easily have written it in the present, because they are indeed solutions I continue to bring into play to cope with my negative self-image. The compromising behavior is not as dominating anymore, but it is definitely still a challenge for me to truly accept and express myself. I have already let go of many feigned facets of myself (thanks to my work with KANT) but I wish to peel off more layers to uncover who’s behind that wall of fear, shoulds and expectations.
What does this have to do with a pilgrimage? Well, I’m curious to see how I will react when all my ingrained strategies and habits are sidelined and I’m exhausted both physically and mentally. What will happen when my relationship with my belongings is challenged and I don’t have my possessions to define me, validate and consolidate me and create a sense of worth and identity? When there is no make-up or garments to hide behind, no phone, computer or social medias to distract me and ease my discomfort? When there is nothing I need to be, do or accomplish. When life is boiled down to the bare necessities and my only purpose is to wander from A to B. The trip is not meant as a point of no return, but rather as an experiment to observe what happens when I’m forced to stay connected to myself and the moment. When it’s just me, myself and I. Uncensored and uncut.
Wish me good luck!
Please note that the webshop is still open during my absence (June 3rd until June 27th). You are welcome to place as many orders as you please. I’ll make sure to ship them first thing when I come home and get my hiking shoes off.