Like many people around the world, I had big travel plans for this month. I was heading back to Spain and the ancient pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago. It is said that Camino gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want or expect. The same is true about life. Events both on and off the Camino signal when it’s time for us to pause, reassess and redirect. As we’re seeing on a global scale, that time is now.
Pilgrimage is in many ways the Great Pause. It invites us to step away from our daily routines, open our minds, reflect on our lives, abide in the present moment and be available to the new and unexpected. We can do that right here at home as well.
Last week I started what I’m calling my “Camino-from-home.” I spend as much time outside as possible. I take long walks in the neighborhood. I explore streets I’ve never been on. I say hello to everyone I see, even if from a distance. I support my favorite family-owned eateries that offer takeout. I venture out to remote areas of town.
While I realize that venturing out is not currently possible for everyone, consider venturing in. The essence of a pilgrimage is the inner journey and that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. While sitting in our backyard, out on the terrace or in a quiet corner of our home, we can ponder some of the deeper questions that might arise on a long-distance walk, things like “what do I value most about my life?” or “what impact would I like to have?” The answers aren’t out on the trail. They are within us. It’s a matter of turning down the noise, to-dos and distractions that consume us, and listening in.
For me, that means going on a digital detox as part of my at-home pilgrimage. Particularly in these uncertain times, it’s easy to get swept up in news updates and other people’s reactions. The more plugged in we are, the more we’re likely to start reacting from a place of fear or anxiety as well.
Let’s take a collective step back and pause. A digital detox is not about getting rid of technology. It’s about not allowing our digital devices to dominate our day. We don’t need a phone to take a walk. I’m putting mine in an indefinite time-out. I’ll still use the phone here and there, of course, but now only during predetermined time slots during the day.
We can think of our home as if it were our pilgrim backpack. If we had to pile all our possessions on top of our back, we probably wouldn’t get very far. Why do we have so much stuff? Why do some of us feel the need to hoard things? I read recently that more than a quarter of people with two-car garages have so much stuff in there that they can’t park their car. It’s time to reassess.
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, states that we regularly use about 20% of what we have. The rest of it, the 80%, sits there unused, collecting dust. Our stuff can weigh us down physically and mentally.
A couple of years ago, I donated half the contents of my closet and still found myself wearing the same 20% over and over. What we actually need and actively use is surprisingly small. Spending more time at home this month is a unique opportunity to go through our stuff like never before. Forget about stockpiling. Spring clean, declutter and share instead.
My Camino-from-home is also an exercise in reflection and prioritization, directing less of my attention toward the outside world and more focus on the inner one. It’s an invitation to slow down, tie up loose ends and projects, connect with the people around me, visualize the world I want to live in and create space for the new.
I’m not canceling my plans for Spain, just rescheduling for a later date. The Camino is not going anywhere. It is resting and resetting. We can too.