Being a pilgrim is commonly known as someone who travels to a foreign land to visit somewhere of religious or historic importance. It is also believed that a pilgrim is someone who travels a considerable distance in carrying out this goal.
I always had problems seeing myself as a pilgrim. I am not and was not when walking the Camino religious. I was not brought up attending any church, and when I first walked the Camino I was a student at Ireland’s catholic university – which had me fighting against the church at that time.
However after walking the Camino the last time I felt a bit more like a pilgrim. I had walked from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. During that walk I carried all my own things for just over four weeks. I became ill, and once I had to be treated in hospital, and for my own private reason it was very important for me to finish – I continued, doctors gave me painkillers in order for me to finish.
So I guess for me being a pilgrim is a state of mind. If I felt like I was on holiday on the Camino I don’t think I would have felt like a pilgrim. I had a task to do, walk to Santiago, and I was quite focused on that task – while at the same time I believed a result of this pilgrimage is that something about me would change – most likely in my mind.
Many people I spoke to on the Camino where looking for answers to their current problems in life, or a way how to make a decision at their current cross road. I don’t know if it does help in that way, however it does give a time out and show that life can go on while those problems still exist.