When my son (Trail name Camel) and I (Toe Tape) set out to walk a 300 km trail in nine days, I was introduced to the concept of,
“Hike your own Hike.”
Meaning that among fellow hikers there is given a freedom for each person to hike in a speed, rhythm, time, and manner that works for them. No criticism is given to other hikers (a serious hiker etiquette faux pas), apologies are not demanded of other hikers, nor will any apologies be given. Bodies are different. Hiking goals are different. Some hikers wish to push their endurance or achieve personal speed records. While other hikers desire to slow down and take in the sights and sounds, or have a more spiritual encounter in nature.
Therefore, we will all meet at the designated location later in the day. How, or at what speed you choose to get there is your decision. The journey is as important as the destination.
Sometimes we choose to move together as a group for the day, other days we choose not to, with some sprinting ahead alone, while others lag behind alone. Other times we pair up, sometimes voluntarily agreeing to push and challenge each other to stretch our endurance, or test our limits as pairs, or as a group.
“…we are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear, and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But it’s still there.” (Paulo Coelho, forward to, The Alchemist)
I think there are some seeds of living wisdom in this hiking etiquette.
We’ve all hiked other peoples hikes. Kept their set pace, followed their rhythms, took our cues from their journey, accepted their criticisms . At times this might help us to streach. Mostly it sucks. Especially when we walk with people who carry a piss poor journey etiquette, people criticizing and demanding apologies for not keeping up their demanded pace, or following their practices.
Yet, there are times being challenged is helpful, but only when entered into willingly.
These two little stories captivated me. About the rhythm and the walk.
Tell me your story, about the journey you dream to take. You need to share the dream to keep it alive, I need to hear it so that I know I am not alone.
“There was something missing in your lecture about the Road to Santiago – a pilgrim told me as soon as we left the House of Galicia in Madrid, where I had just attended conference.
There was much missing, since my intention had merely been to share some of my experiences. Nevertheless, I invited her for a coffee, curious to learn what she considered an important omission.
And Begoña – that was her name – told me:
– I have noticed that the majority of pilgrims, whether on the Road to Santiago, or on the paths of life, always try to follow the rhythms of others.
“At the beginning of my pilgrimage, I tried to stay with my group. It was tiring and demanded of my body more than I could give, I was always tense, and in the end had trouble with a tendon in my left foot. Unable to walk for two days, I understood that I would only reach Santiago if I obeyed my own personal rhythm.
“I took longer than the others, and had to walk alone for long stretches, but it was only by respecting my own rhythm that I managed to complete the journey. Since then I have applied this to everything I must do in life: to respect my own tempo…….”
“A certain Rabbi was adored by the community; everyone was enchanted by what he said.
Except for Isaac, who never missed an opportunity to contradict the Rabbi’s interpretations and point out faults in his teachings. The others were annoyed by Isaac, but could do nothing about it.
One day, Isaac died. During the funeral, the community noticed that the Rabbi was deeply upset. – Why are you so sad? – someone commented.
– He was always criticizing everything you said!
– I am not upset for my friend who is now in heaven – replied the Rabbi – I am upset for my own self. While everyone revered me, he challenged me, and I was obliged to improve. Now he has gone, I am afraid I shall stop growing.”
(Paulo Coelho : Warrior Of The Light vol 1)