I just finished reading a book in which the author made mention of undertaking an activity that “… hit that life altering, magic reset, button …” Finding herself tired, disenchanted, bordering on burnout, and in need of strategies and new tools to embrace the second half of her life, she turned to her “magic reset button” of a pilgrimage.
For the author, a self-described chronic peregrina, or long-distance hiker, the pilgrimage of choice was the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, which takes 35 days for a seasoned hiker to complete. She had already completed the pilgrimage 5 times.
As defined by Wikipedia:
A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.
Having myself been tired, disenchanted, bordering on burnout, and in need of strategies and new tools to embrace my life, I was intrigued by the prospect of a pilgrimage and fascinated by the possibility it would lead to a “magic reset” of my life.
A quick Google search on pilgrimages led me to National Geographic. According to Nat Geo, the top 5 pilgrimages around the world included:
Abraham’s Path: An epic 1,243-mile route starting in Harran, Turkey, where God is said to have called upon Abraham to go forth. The path rambles through Egypt, Palestine, Israel, and Jordan.
Via Francigena: A 1,200-mile route connecting Canterbury to Rome via France, the Swiss Alps, and the Italian Apennines, passing churches and shrines devoted to St Francis.
Adam’s Peak: In Sri Lanka’s Central Highlands, this conical, 7,360ft-high peak is home to a footprint that’s said to belong to—faith depending—Adam, Buddha, or Shiva.
Caminho Português: The wild Atlantic coast unravels before you on this uncrowded trail from Lisbon (380 miles) or Porto (140 miles) to Santiago de Compostela.
Mount Kailash: This three-day, 32-mile circuit up the sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet (21,778ft )is a holy ritual said to bring good fortune.
Soul stirring landscapes, to say the least! Maybe more accurately described as adventures of a lifetime. Nevertheless, as I sat daydreaming my way through the list. All things considered, I decided on #2 Via Francigena. Hard to go wrong with St Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and environment, not to mention 50 days walking in France, the Swiss Alps, and the Italian Apennines.
It wasn’t long before I was down the rabbit hole. Who knew that there were tour companies specializing in pilgrimage tour packages? For a mere $9,025 US dollars, not including air fair and tips, the Via Francigena was a click way.
As I turned over the pros and the cons and thought about other pilgrimage options, I was struck by the obvious. Here I was, totally all in, chasing the benefits of an activity that held the promise of personal transformation, an activity billed as a magic reset button, an experience promising a journey into foreign places. I could go in search of new or expanded meaning about myself, others, nature, or a higher good. A heretofore unknown and unimaginable opportunity, I will admit. But was it mine?
That simple question brought me up short. How many times have I fallen in behind others, hoping to accomplish what they did, all the while knowing that I really needed to be making my own way? Honestly, far too many.
A perverse and reverse confirmation bias? Or the Siren’s call in my current stressed out and overbooked life?
All I could hear were the insightful words of Jon Kabat-Zinn:
Wherever you go, there you are.
Could a grand, epic, and awe-inspiring adventure on another continent really create a lasting change in me? Or would it all fade once I returned home to the daily routines of my life? Would such an adventure increase my self-transformation pace, or would I be skipping over valuable lessons meant to be experienced along the way?
All I could think of was whether I really have to go somewhere else to prepare for who I am becoming?
Am I really looking for a reset, or was I just trying to fast forward my life to pick up the pace of change? Does the pace of my life’s transformation even matter? Is there any need for me to rush through life trying to bag the successes on the path I have chosen? Isn’t facing the journey of life as important as the goals and milestones I experience along the way?
Reset or fast forward? One and the same? I don’t know.
Emotionally I was all in, but rationally I was spinning. I have always subscribed to the wisdom of our time—jump and the net will appear. While I believe this to be absolutely true, in this case, I was filled with a bit of doubt and uncertainty. Would I be jumping for me, or jumping to grab ahold of something that someone else had accomplished and extolled the virtues of? I honestly didn’t know.
When all else fails, a lesson I learned the hard way, is to pause.
When we pause, allow a gap, and breathe deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly we slow down and there is the world. —Pema Chodron
A pause is exactly what I need, instant refreshment to slow down and see the world.
Reset, fast forward, or sally forth?
If, which is a huge if, there is indeed a “magic reset” button in my life, I wonder what it could be. I wonder how it would work and what it would actually reset. And equally as perplexing, if there is indeed a way to use experiences to fast forward my growth, I wonder how far it could take me? Or are these, as I am beginning to fear, just halfhearted distractions?
I’ll have to continue pondering …
PS. I would love to hear from you if you are a peregrina and have completed a pilgrimage. I would especially love to hear from you if you have discovered your own “magic reset button.”