Give me a chance to speak about the Camino de Santiago and I will! I got an inspiration to re-act my experience with the exact outfit I wore on the Camino, the exact same backpack which I’m sure was as heavy as the real thing.
This is the last speech on stage before the Corona pandemic hit. I gave all consequtive speeches online via Zoom.
Also, here I’m pregnant, soon to enter maternity leave. This is the little one’s 3rd speech. 😝
Fellow Toastmasters, dear guests,
would you like to come on a journey with me? On feet for 800 kilometers?
A journey of splendid sunrises and a journey of pain and total exhaustion?
A journey that would get you in touch with people from all over the world?A journey that will force you to share the night with complete strangers with all the smelly socks and snoring you can imagine?
A journey of vino tinto, paella, tortilla, cafe con leche?
A journey of sunburn, wet feet, and heavy backpack?
A journey that will open your heart and a journey that will shake your identity to the core?
A journey without a guarantee that you ever reach the destination?
While you’re making up your mind let me tell you about my journey.
/* gets heavy backpack off */
Three years ago I had achieved my life success plan. All the boxes were ticked:
- I was feeling healthy
- I had made Berlin my home
- I had met the man of my life
- We’re living happily together in a nice apartment
- I was progressing my career making so much money that I could buy anything I wanted
- The journeys were there: Hawaii, South Africa, Thailand, whatever
… but wait, was I happy?! NO!
You see, I had reached the goal and I had put SO MUCH EFFORT all my life and when I was there it was so disappointing.
Yeah, it was exciting in the first couple of months but then it became normality. I had lost my purpose. I felt desperate.
Where I’m going now?
I lived in quiet desperation for a couple of months until my inner voice nudged me to do something that felt quite risky. This was a six-month sabbatical.
What will happen if I leave behind this identity that I have created? Leave the job, leave the social environment and just be with me for six months? Soon the answers started to come.
I was reminded of the Camino de Santiago, this pilgrimage in Spain for 800kilometers. The idea of packing two T-shirts, two pairs of socks and a toothbrush and living on a journey alone in Spain was so attractive that I just got a ticket and a week later I was there.
/* puts heavy backpack on again */
It turned out to be a journey of three years! I split the whole 800 kilometers pilgrimage into three parts (link). Every year I was coming back to continue. I did experience all these things that I told you about in the beginning. I did reach the goal.
I didn’t only reach in Santiago I also reached Finisterre. This is the end of the world, the place where continental Europe meets the freezing Atlantic ocean, the place where I couldn’t continue walking even if I wanted, the place where the old pilgrims were burning their smelly shoes and clothes and they were jumping into the ice-cold water of the Atlantic – a symbolic rebirth of a kind.
Was I happy there?! NO!
Again no. Again I had reached the destination and I was not happy. In fact I had never been more broken.
You see this last trip I had limited time and I had a final destination. I couldn’t have just reached very close and not finished. I had to finish. So I forced myself to walk 25-30 kilometers a day and I completely ignored what my body was telling me.
I arrived there with broken knees, pain. I lost a lot of weight on the Camino itself. But worst of all, I lost the magic of it, the adventure of strolling around, chatting with random people, having a nap just somewhere on the way. This was all gone.
Again the same thing: the goal was achieved and I was not satisfied. There was a clear lesson there. The journey is the destination.
Did I learn my lesson?! YEAH!
Am I happy now?! HELL YEAH!
I live now much more into the journey.
I don’t really have a destination.
I travel much lightly: all the baggage it’s dropped, the material possessions the heavy stuff but also the heavy relationships. I have forgiven the people that hurt me in my life.
Best of all, I’m listening now to this inner voice that tells me to do stuff. So when I got this inspiration for this speech I decided to go for it not knowing where it would take me and maybe where it would take you.
Now that you know my story would you come on a journey with me?!