As someone who has been tethered to computers via the Net for many years doing my online teaching and consulting work, I have come to realize the need to create a balance between the connected self and disconnected self.
To achieve that goal, I spent five days in July 2012, not teaching or consulting, not in a car, nor with a computer, but rather walking the last 115 kilometers of the Camino Frances pilgrimage route across northern Spain (mostly in the mountains of Galicia).
Ok, being a technogeek more than a pilgrim, I did buy a sports watch with realtime GPS for location, altitude, and speed readings and it also has a heart monitor for bpm display. Oh yeah, a global cell phone in off mode unless I need help, and a smartphone that was deactivated so I can use it for wifi connection (where that was supported in my overnight accommodations) and for taking photos and videos on the trail.
My goal was more than to simply get untethered, I sought to walk in the path of the apostle St. James (Iacob in Hebrew and Santiago in Spanish) and those who walk after him in the true spirit of pilgrimage. Crossing mountain ridges made it an arduous journey, but in my prayerful approach and in the sharing of that with other pilgrims, it was a rewarding pilgrimage. What made walking more than 8 hours per day for 5 days possible was not my training or equipment, but the spirit that endows when the words “Para Dios” guides your steps. Those are the words that I received in answer to my question of two Spanish pilgrims on a previous visit to the Camino when I asked why they go on this pilgrimage.
Although my pilgrimage was completed, while still resting my heels (and knees;-) I made plans to walk the last 117 kilometers of the Camino Portugues from the border of Spain and Portugal at Tui this time northward, but to the same destination, Santiago de Compostela – arriving on the feast day of the apostle, whose remains are kept behind the altar in the Cathedral.
Click on the play arrow in the video frame below to view a brief video I took one morning on the Camino at Palas de Rei, Spain in the mountains of Galicia where I stayed in a cabin overnight (listen for the German pilgrims singing as they began their walk that day). I used my deactivated smartphone to take a video that was immediately sent via the restaurant WiFi to the Web.
Click on the link below to my youtube.com channel where you can view other videos (under the Uploads category) I took on the Camino and in Santiago de Compostela, some with a view of arriving pilgrims in the plaza and the tall spires of the Cathedral where I attended pilgrim mass at the end of my journey.
Although my words or my brief real-time videos cannot capture the full experience of being untethered and on pilgrimage, clicking on the play arrow in the video frame at the top of this blog entry displays an edited video of Camino de Santiago de Compostela from 2011 from an Irish Pilgrim’s perspective.
As you can see, my fascination with technology remains firmly entrenched, but I am finding the needed balance between being tethered and untethered from it.
I hope that you will find ways to balance your immersion in technology with the rewards of getting “untethered” and reflecting on our wider connection with life, each other, and a prayerful walk.