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Why walking and writing wrecked me for ordinary life

Why walking and writing wrecked me for ordinary life


“There is no song more agreeable to the heart, than the slow even breath of the pilgrim, learning to bless and be blessed by the mystery.”

Stephen Devine


The Camino wrecked me for an ordinary life.

I’d pretty much failed that test anyway, however walking 32 days straight for more than 900kms – for all its agonies and ecstasies – left me with one giant impossibility: I never wanted to come inside again.

No matter how beautiful the home, no matter precious the objects in it, no matter . . . (fill in your story), none of it compares to a wild sky loaded with stars at night, a gentle creek at dawn, a farmyard restless with feeding time, a surprise eclipse stealing the midday sun.

Even when life is at its most desperate discomfort – the heat of late summer paddocks, an endless rain hammering frozen fingers, a bed not forthcoming at the end of a long day’s walk. These are small prices to pay on the pilgrim’s road, even as they loom large at the time – because no matter what the external circumstances, when one is outside walking the soul is soaring. And we all know that when the heart is happy, life is good.

Writing too disrupted my life.

The longing to write that took root in my heart became a crescendo, and despite the crescendo still I ignored it. It was like having a symphony orchestra show up in your kitchen and acting as though you were listening to music through the speaker on your phone.

One day the cymbals in that orchestra shattered all I thought I knew and I walked out of my life. I had no idea what I would do, exactly, but I knew that I wanted to write and I did not want to die wondering.

Some time later I hit the pilgrim path to Santiago de Compostela and vowed to make no decisions until the day came when one more step, just one more, would take me off the pilgrim road to . . . deep down I knew. I knew I would write.

And there we have it.

Walking. Writing. Walking and writing.

They teach fearlessness. They teach commitment. They teach endurance. They command us to wake up.

Walking and writing both, rattle our bones and shatter our self-importance until we pay attention to twin human realities that define the soul willing no longer to settle for less:

* the longing to share our story

* a hankering to walk the turning wheel that is the world outside our door.

Wherever, you are – cities, factories, apartments, farms – walk. Walk when you can. Step it up, step it out. Let your eyes take a wander with your spirit, tune your ears into life broadcasting all around you. And one day, one day, shove a pen and small piece of paper in your pocket, and begin.

Walk while you write, write while you walk. Rest and write. Walk.

And as you begin to write your story, you will learn a profound pilgrim lesson: as within, so without.

Walking, writing: so many mysteries, revealed.


Stephanie DaleWritten by Stephanie Dale, author, journalist & traveling writer; founder of The Write Road and Walk and Write.

Stephanie Dale is an award-winning journalist and author with a fondness for walking and writing. She is a passionate advocate for the visibility and voices of everyday people and focuses on supporting new and unpublished writers to write and keep writing. The Write Road is dedicated to empowering people to tell their stories, their way.


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