“So how far are you planning to walk today?” was a question often heard on the Camino.
In the early days of my walk to Santiago, I knew the answer. I had an Excel spreadsheet that listed all the towns in which I planned to stop and the distances between them — in both miles and kilometers. I printed it on purple paper before I left home so I could easily find it, usually stuffed in the middle of my guidebook. “It’s just a rough idea,” I told fellow pilgrims who saw it.
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My mother has this thing about advice: she doesn’t give it. She once told me it was because she never wanted to tell us what to do only to have it not work and her words come back to haunt her. This whole mom-not-giving-advice thing has worked out pretty well so far. But sometimes I just want an answer. At those times, I just listen to the voice in my head.
Lucky for me, I don’t have lots of voices in my head – just one. And it’s not so much that I “hear” it. It’s the conversation you have in your head. You know what I mean. Like when you see that Freighoffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are on sale for $2 and you’re thinking you shouldn’t get them because you’ll finish the whole box in two days – or maybe in one night. But then the voice says, “Eh – it’s been a tough week – you deserve them.” Or it says, “It’s been a good week – you deserve them.” That’s the voice. Lucky for me, it doesn’t tell me “Don’t get them – they’re full of preservatives and they’ll make you fat.” You know why it doesn’t tell me that? Because this voice knows me. And it knows that I don’t own a scale and think it’s perfectly fine to eat a box of cookies in one night once in a while.
In the past, I’d listen to the voice only sporadically – as a last resort when I was sick of trying to figure out what to do, when I had fretted over a decision entirely too long for my liking. Now I listen much more often. Some call it intuition. Their gut feeling. Their heart. God. Whatever – doesn’t matter. We’ve all got it. And it’s amazing what happens when you start to listen to it.