Busted Halo

Rebecca Gallo is trying to put into practice the lessons she learned while walking The Camino. Follow along as she continues her spiritual journey — whatever that might mean.

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January 30th, 2013

A Single Purpose


What do I miss most about the Camino? If I had to choose just one thing, I’d say, “The simplicity of it all.” More specifically, the fact that there was just one item on my to-do list most days: walk.

“How far did you walk each day?” people ask.

“Twelve to 15 miles in the beginning, but sometimes I did up to 18.”

They are left speechless — a blank stare on their face. “But it’s all I had to do each day,” I tell them. “If you had all day to walk, you could walk that far, too.”

I was reminded of that sentiment last fall when I saw a painting of blue and green mountains. Across the top it read, “Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.”

And that’s what it’s about: time. And what we choose to fill it with. How much of it we choose to fill. In his Life’s Little Instruction Book H. Jackson Brown advises us:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”

To which I want to say, “Yes, but they didn’t have the Internet, e-mail, and a little device that allowed people to interrupt them at any time of the day or night.”

I know — I can turn off my cell phone; I can limit the time I spend on the Internet; I can choose to only read my e-mail when I have time to sit and respond. (Yes — I still get e-mails to which I need to respond. I know this is rare for most people.)

As I looked at my calendar last week, I longed for a simpler life. It’s my own doing, of course. I could learn to say no more often. To my credit, I say “no” more than I used to — sometimes even without guilt.

But what is it that makes us feel like we need each moment occupied? I used to always leave the house with a book or notebook in my car or purse — just in case I had to sit in a waiting room. Or stand on a line. Or dine alone. There is a home video of me and my four siblings sitting among our Halloween candy doing our post trick-or-treating trading. A book sits off to my side. “Did you bring a book with you trick-or-treating?” my father asks. “Yeah — in case I got bored,” I told him, matter-of-factly.

Ah — and there it is. Those words so detested by mother’s of teenagers.”I’m bored.” Is that why I fill my days? Fear of boredom? I think the adult version of “fear of boredom” is “fear of being unproductive.” There is a certain push to accomplish so much. In our work lives, our personal lives, our spiritual lives — even on vacation! It can be never ending.

So last weekend, I limited myself to one activity each on Saturday and Sunday — nothing else. On Saturday, after my scheduled breakfast with a friend, I let the day take me wherever it went. I did the same on Sunday and by the end of the weekend found myself feeling relaxed and productive. I was not too surprised. Some time ago I read with fascination a blog post by Leo Babauta on living a life without goals, and how productive that can really be.

I’m not ready to give up all goals yet, but a Camino-like series of days with just one goal? That I might be able to do.



The Author : Rebecca Gallo
Since 2012, Rebecca Gallo has walked the Camino de Santiago three times -- twice on a strict budget, and a third time traveling a little more luxuriously (private rooms with sheets instead of hostels with a sleeping bag). She enjoyed sharing her first journey and subsequent reflections with Busted Halo readers. Other tales of her adventures can be found at RenaissanceRebecca.com.
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  • Jeanine BERNIER

    After reading “A single purpose”, I am looking forward to coming back to Spain, on the camino.
    Happy new year to you. Rémy

  • http://www.facebook.com/Bytehoven Chris Yavelow

    That’s a great idea for weekends. Several years ago, I made the decision that weekends were only for my own goals, rather than continuing my work week on other people’s projects. However, the idea of limiting the weekend to a single goal is intriguing, and I’m going to give it a try, particularly keeping in mind the relationship to my Camino walk last fall.

    • Rebecca

      Ah – weekends just for your own goals. That’s another great idea. Good luck with the “single goal.” Do let me know how it goes.

  • Angela

    Russ Baskett sent me your blog post, I interned at his summer camp for three years and he mentioned that you were going on the Camino right before I left. I hiked the Camino with two of my best college friends from mid March – April ’12. It’s coming up on a year now and reading your blog posts brings back a flood of memories. I just wanted to say, I get it. My two friends and I now joke that we are always in walking distance, even if I’m living in DC and one’s up in Boston and the other is in New Jersey. There is something so simple, yet so powerful in walking every day, all day, for 30ish days. My favorite part about the Camino was listening to the wisdom, opinions, and stories of my fellow pilgrims. Funny how that still happens after we’ve reached the destination, Santiago. So yeah, as a fellow pilgrim, I just wanted to say, I get it. It was never about the miles we walked, it was the act of walking and talking and experiencing life at our own pace and in community with others. – Buen Camino ;)

    • Rebecca

      Oh thank you for this Angela. Do say hello to Russ for me. He is a wonderful man doing great work. Your words bring me back as well. “so simple, yet so powerful.” That says so much indeed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.zarranz.5 Joe Zarranz

    I am always touched by your blog and it seems it is always an appropriate topic as I get close to season of lent and try to see how somehow I can listen and search for my God in a special way.

    • Rebecca

      Hi Joe – I am so honored to be able to connect with a larger community of people in this way. I thank you for reading and for your comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dawson.emily Emily Dawson

    Love this. I can completely relate in an Enneagram 3 sense. But I also love how days unfold, too. For some it works, and others need the structure. But it’s good reflection regardless :)

    • Rebecca

      Thanks Emily. (And the Enneagram is on my list of things to explore.)

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