Pack as light as possible.
This is the first piece of advice I got on the Camino de Santiago from a guy I randomly met. It was his second time on the Camino and I met him in the albergue municipal of Saint Jean Pied de Port. He told me that the heavy backpack seems ok at the beginning and you always think that you are strong enough for it, but after 200 Km or so you will feel the pain; and then you will start throwing away things, but the pain has already been caused.
I do know the pain will be healed after a while, but you will have to carry your backpack, and walk with the pain for some time.
Even if you pack as light as possible, you will always keep thinking your backpack is so heavy.
That advice sounded normal when I first heard it. I thought yeah ok I need to keep my back healthy because if it hurts it will be annoying to walk. But after walking for so long, and practicing the Camino and experiencing how it feels to walk the Camino, thoughts start coming to you, and also conversations you had with people on the Camino keep coming back. And that’s when you start thinking deeper of what have been said to you. After a while on the Camino you realize that your Camino is like a life journey. It’s not just walking and watching the nature, but it represents how you can interact with life. It teaches you lessons and gives you experiences on how to live life.
And then I came to realize that this advice wasn’t just about my Camino backpack. But it also applies about my life backpack. Keep it simple. You do not need the heavy backpack to survive; life is simpler than you think it is.
Your heavy backpack can be that life style you are always trying to maintain, your clothing that always have to look so perfect, or your expensive perfumes, anything that is keeping you away from being simple. I’m not saying that you have to look ugly, but humble. Not homeless, but non-plastic.
You can still keep those classy clothes, you can still smell good, without being so sophisticated and without over doing it. Without making it a burden to yourself. Without having to endure any pain to look better. Because trust me; you look perfect with whatever little you have. And those who do not accept as you are have that back pain because it’s their backpack that is so heavy and sooner or later they will realize it. But hopefully they will do before their pain is chronic.
(Photo of “Cross with extra stuff hanged on it” was taken by Me somewhere between Barbadelo and Porto Marin).
(Photo of “A walking Pilgrim” was taken by Me somewhere between Zubiri and Pamplona. Permission from the Pilgrim in the picture has been taken)