THE WAY, MY WAY
Why I wrote the book
The Way, My Way, is my memoir of walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, in 2013. It’s a journey of some 800kms, from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, which is the capital of Galicia near the far west coast of Spain.
It’s a pilgrimage route that’s been in existence since before the time of Christ, however in recent years it’s become very popular – not only for those that want to do the walk for religious reasons, but also for those that 1) want some exercise, 2) want a cheap holiday in Europe, 3) want to challenge themselves, or 4) want to party.
Why did I do it?
Well, it wasn’t for any of those four reasons. In fact, before I did the walk, I had no clue as to why I wanted to do it. I wasn’t at all religious. As I state in the book, I wasn’t even sure I was Christian. On the last census, when I had to put down my religion, I said I was a Buddhist, mainly because the poor buggers have had such a hard time in Tibet, I figured they might need my statistical support.
I can though trace my fledgling interest in the Camino to a few years earlier, when I stayed in Galicia for a couple of months, hunkered down in a small stone farmhouse, working on another manuscript. To break the terrifying prospect of looking at a blinking cursor on an empty screen, I would sometimes go driving, and I would see pilgrims walking the Camino, heading to Santiago, lemming-like.
I would see them walking in the rain, in howling winds, on highways, and along country trails that took them up impossibly high hills. It seemed like such a stupid inane meaningless thing to do that I felt compelled to do it myself.
So when I returned home to Australia I began training, and the next thing I knew I’d booked a flight to France to walk the walk. As I say, I didn’t know why I wanted to do it, it’s just that my compulsion had grown into full-blown obsession.
On the second day of the walk, I developed a major problem with my knee – I was to find out later that I’d lost all cartilage in my joint, and I was technically “bone-on-bone” – and as I wrote later in my book, my Camino became less of a pilgrimage and more of a hurtful lesson in pain management.
I kept going with the aid of the wonder painkiller Ibuprofen, at a dosage that would have given a Spanish bull a heart attack, swallowed down with copious amounts of Coke Zero.
Along the way I met some fascinating characters, learned a hell of a lot about myself, and gained some profound insights that changed my life – all the while keeping my sense of humour.
I got to the end of the Camino, standing in front of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, expecting some kind of divine epiphany. As I wrote in my book, I was hoping that the skies would part and on a golden beam of sunlight a flock of celestial angels would descend, complete with harps and horns, and herald me with divine insight as to why I’d put myself through thirty days of pain.
That didn’t happen.
So I found a pub and got drunk.
I got back to Australia and realized that if I really wanted to know why I’d walked the Camino, I had to write a book. And hopefully, the reasons would become apparent in the retelling of the story.
And so that’s why I wrote, THE WAY, MY WAY, to make sense of my walk. In a way, it was to complete the walk, because I realized it hadn’t finished in front of that Cathedral. It still hasn’t finished.
If you want to buy the book, it’s available on Amazon and iBooks.
I now run a Camino blog, which is:
I also run spiritual tours, at:
Originally published at http://www.nfreads.com/article/the-way-my-way-why-i-wrote-the-book/