I walk along in peaceful silence, the warm rays of the sun filtering down through the trees overhead. I hear the gentle steps of another backpacker approaching from behind. What a wonderful day to be out in nature, to be a part of it. Then it happens. RING…RING…RING. The backpacker behind me fumbles in his pockets, eventual bringing his phone to his ear as he passes me. I overhear the conversation. It’s a business call, someone at work needs some information. Negative thoughts run through my head as well as the fantasy of plucking the phone from the backpackers hands and flinging it far off into the forest.
I walk along in peaceful silence, the warm rays of the sun filtering down through the trees overhead. I hear the gentle steps of another backpacker approaching from behind. What a wonderful day to be out in nature, to be a part of it. I hear the familiar sound of a text message being received on my iPhone. I slip the phone out of my pocket as the other backpacker walks past, nodding with an acknowledgement of our common wilderness experience. I look at the text message, it’s from my wife. Hi Darling, I just wanted to let you know that I love you and I miss you, have a nice trip. I smile with a warm sense that all is well with the world.
Although smart phones have probably become an epidemic of distraction for many of us, the act of “unplugging” has a different meaning for each of us. Being able to receive occasional texts from my loved ones back home just makes me feel good. Having the right camera to take really nice pictures brings out the artist in me. “Unplugging” is about leaving behind those things that detract from our journeys, and what that distraction is is up to you. My personal “unplugging” while walking the Camino del Norte this summer might seem a bit odd. I’m a natural born navigator and I need to know the route, the direction, the distances. I alway bring good maps on my journeys so I know where I am at all times. It’s an ego thing, I’m the master navigator. SO, for the Del Norte, I “unplugged”, I deliberately avoided maps. I had an idea of where the Camino started on the coast of France but that was all. I actually stumbled onto a camino marker hidden in the grass just outside Saint-Jean-de-Luz and that’s how my Camino began. Five days in, my wife (back at home) felt sorry for me, I think I was going through map withdrawal, I was anxious and worried about getting lost. She pulled up some small pictures from Gronze.com and TM’d them to me. Looking at my small iPhone screen in the rain and then up at the mountain in front of me was like trying to drink from a thimble, but it helped.
Taking journeys is about making ourselves vulnerable to our environment … and to one another. It’s about letting go of those security blankets; the technologies, the umbrella, that laptop, so you can forge a new path that opens you up to the spirt. What do you leave behind? It’s up to you. Just listen to your heart, it’s already made the decision on what you need to let go of.