A Million Steps by Kurt Koontz

It is not often that I find myself being judgmental of an author while reading his or her book, but with Kurt I was.  We are of similar ages, backgrounds, both of us had addiction issues and both of us left those behind many years ago – even though they are still something that defines us.  So, sorry Kurt, although I enjoyed reading the book, initially I was not going to write anything about it.  However, after my other half read the book I asked her what she thought and she really liked it.  So here I am getting over myself.

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The title of the book seems to have come from some math that Kurt pondered on his thirteenth day of walking.  You know those thoughts where you just decide to work something out.  He counted his steps between kilometer markers and did the math – hence A Million Steps – I like the title.

This is a travelogue and not a travel guide, though it will give anyone who has not walked any of the Camino de Santiago routes yet a good idea of what to expect.

Kurt walked the Camino Frances in 28 days and the book is split into those days with a twist – each day has a topic along with some information or what happened on that day.  For example: day 1 explores the topic of Albergues, day 5 covers Arrows and Signs, day 14 covers Gratitude – I think it was a very smart way of covering all the Camino topics while staying on the day to day rhythm of the walk.

He talks a lot about his current relationship in the book from the Foreword till the End he weaves it into some of the stories.  He was trying, it appears, to make a decision; I was wondering while reading the book if we were going to know what he would decide – we do and I will not ruin it by stating the outcome here.

39WindMeetsTheStars

He also states at the start of the book that he wanted some alone time for an internal journey – I think that many of us who walk the Camino look for the same.  I thought before I went to Spain that I would have a lot of time on my own to think about some things and scribble in my journal – I had much less time than I thought due to meeting and talking with so many other pilgrims.  I think that meeting and talking with others was much better than me being stuck with my head for a month…

I read almost all my books now on a Kindle app on my iPad.  Something I did not see coming until I was in a country for a while where I could not get English books easily.  One of the great things about the Kindle is seeing what other people have underlined in a book and how many times each part has been highlighted.  I also use it for keeping notes – great for book reviews.

This line has been highlighted by the most people and is typical of the treasures within the book:

There is no way to be happy yesterday or tomorrow.  The only time to be happy is now.

I have written about happiness before and I strongly believe that I have more happiness and enjoyment in life when there are other people to share with- the Camino is great for that.

This book is available on Amazon as in Kindle and paper form, and also available in some bookstores.  It was published a year ago and is still relevant today.  Interestingly the book has had 272 customer reviews on Amazon, 200 are 5 star, 52 are 4 star – not too bad at all.

You can buy the book here for the US and here for the UK and this is his website.

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8 Comments

  1. Kathy on August 6, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you Leslie for this – it has given me a lot to think on.

    I had an idea that I would walk the pilgrim route and somewhere in my head last year I was going to aim for this September. Sadly a lot of things over the last year had, I thought, put that out of reach – I had family issues with an elderly parent who lives 300 miles from being diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer’s and all the attendant concerns about supporting her along with issues that have been ongoing with one of my ‘mature’ children’s personal health and the well being of her child – and too much work at work.
    Looking back, I can see that I buried myself in work as a way of managing family stuff and possibly vaidating myself as an indivudal – not a daughter or a mother or nana. It all took its toll earlier this year – I just ran out of steam, enthusiasm, energy and the will to cope ! I had already been to see my doctor about stress/anxiety/lack of sleep but the day I was due to go back to work after having been away at a training conference elsewhere but felt so ill – with a virus – I knew that I had to stop – and so did my Doctor – depression was at the core of it all. Here I am – six months on and still in recovery – along the way things are being sorted out for the day to day care for my Mum, my daughter and her partner have managed to more or less sort out issues for my granddaughter – but I have not yet returned to work – still finding it a big question about being there.

    I had hoped to have been able to start building fitness for my planned September walk – September not only in terms of the season but also the period of time in my life – but a rear end shunt a few months ago scuppered physical anything – so I thought to myself that I cannot do the walk this year – aim for next year – again September – mostly cos that is when it is still warm, balmy and lovely to be out in the open but not so fraught for sunburn – at least that is what I am hoping.

    Then I read the blog today – about both your and Kurt’s initial intent to use it as a period fo reflective thinking and finding direction – my intended purpose too! Then I read the phrase about happiness – can I truly wait another year to get fit so that I can spend time thinking and reflecting on my purpose, my direction to discover the happiness that I seek – within me?

    I have been going to the gym over the last month – as the physical, mental and emotional exhaustion and the pain in the joints from the accident abates so energy is coming back – could I still take the accrued holidays owing to me when I return to work to undertake my walk – can I do this ? Should I do this? Can I afford to do so – mentally, emotionally and financially? Can I afford not to do so? What have I to lose – nothing! What have I go gain? Everything – this is so much what I need right now – time, space, discussion, tolerance and understanding with probably like minded folk and learn to stop treading water waiting……but to get in the swim….now ! I think I am going to give it a try!

    Thank you Leslie – and Kurt!

    • Leslie on August 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      I am also guilty of getting lost in work – less now, but it still happens.

      The forum is a good place to help with planning and deciding when to go by chatting online to like minded people.

      http://www.caminoforums.com/

  2. Kurt Koontz on August 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I am honored and full of gratitude to read the review of my book and the Kathy’s story. Good thing that Leslie has another half that nudged him into writing the story! This book is another Camino for me as it keeps bringing people like you into my life. I feel very fortunate.

    Kathy, I always advocate going for the gusto of life. Life will not tee up the perfect storm for you to go on this trail. Like herding cats……aligning finance, work, vacation, relationships, and health prevents many from making this glorious journey. Listen to your heart and buy a ticket to Spain!

    Enjoy the day!

    Kurt

    • Leslie on August 6, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Thanks Kurt. Yes, my other half is more precious than she knows.

      • natasha fiket on August 8, 2014 at 5:46 pm

        Is there any way that someone with a gimpy heart who has walked the Camino several times and still wants to do it one more time can take a taxi up the first steep part from St. Jean as far as the road goes?

        • Leslie on August 11, 2014 at 6:48 am

          I am sure any taxi in St Jean would do this. But why start in St Jean and put your health at risk, many people start in Roncesvalles.

          • Natasha Fiket on October 21, 2017 at 5:18 pm

            Hi, Leslie,
            We did walk again with a gimpy heart and a fixed hip, but we booked Kayola overnight so we could enjoy the gorgeous views of the Pyrenees:) We hope to do the same one more time aged 80 and 75 next year- our 6th.But this time we’ll bus from Astorga to Ponferrada and avoid the awful downhill, but miss our favourite Gaucelmo. The Camino is addictive and we’re so happy we found it:)

            Natasha Fiket



  3. Tiziana on December 12, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I’ve journeyed the Camino Frances twice(first with a friend and second with my daughter),,, and all the books you read cannot prepare you for the actual experience which is an individual journey. So get the ticket as everyone knows life’s short and opportunities come and go and we always ask when is the best time to go,,,,now is the best time ! The fact that you are thinking of something means the universe is communicating with you. Buen Camino

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