If you have 3 months left…

June 29, 2007

A powerful lesson I learned on the Camino from a man diagnosed with terminal cancer.

I met a fairly happy man, who cracked a lot of jokes with several newly made friends on the road, who recently retired and was finally getting a long, deserved vacation, but then he told me in private that he had only 3 months to live! I was devastated!

He was keeping a joly facade to make other people happy and would not bother the others about his condition. He was walking the Camino to Santiago as a reflection on his life. He was contemplating on his past experiences.

What did I do right or wrong? What lessons have I learned in this life? Is there anything worthy of a legacy, a reminder of my life after I am gone? Did I love well? Did I serve well? What will people tell about me at the funeral? (I call these the Final Questions)

He also wrote down a list of (old) friends and people he really wanted to see or call during these final weeks…

He knew that after flying back home, he would enter the hospital, never to leave it again. Only painful treatments to prolonge his life were waiting for him. Probably a lot of frustration about how his body was deteriorating and draining his energy. Luckily, his family would support him till the end, but he couldn’t stand the thought of how they would suffer because of him…

To be totally honest, it was rather difficult for me to say or do something useful, besides giving him a lot of love, courage and energy. He made me realise again that life is too short and that we are wasting a lot of time, energy and money on minor things in life

So, how would you answer your Final Questions?

Take a moment to reflect on them… I am sure something in your mind will change.

Probably needless to say, but my quote grew even stronger:

ENJOY EVERY DAY !!!

Start to wear your best suit today, use your finest dishes, have dinner at that great restaurant, book that trip you’ve been dreaming of, call old friends again, have fun and don’t wait until…yeah, until it’s too late!

Have a great , an outstanding, magical weekend!

Bert

PS : for people who where with me on the Camino, you surely understand and respect his wish not to tell his name… Thanks!

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Changing your identity

June 28, 2007

One of the lessons I learned on the Camino was about changing one’s identity by changing his/her first name.

My friend Gary (aka Gazze) from Australia is a great guy, but probably the slowest hiker I have met on the Camino 😉

Everybody walks his own rythm, so no worries mate!

He used to introduce himself as ‘Gary’. This one day, somebody misunderstood and thought his name was Kevin.  Since people are always asking around when people had started (and where), you can imagine he was the “talk of the day” once and a while. So, they spread the word about this slow, sympathetic Aussie, named Kevin, on the Camino…

Of course, he tried to explain over and over again that his name was Gary, not Kevin. Nothing could help, so after a while, he started to accept that people called him Kevin.  When exchanging addresses he even writes Kevin now, so that people remember who he really was.

Another great friend I have met, is Sandrita. She is from my hometown, but I never met her before. We used to live 25 years in the same town, but had different schools, friends, interests, etc.  Now, her real name is Sandra, but she travels a lot and especially to South America. A single, cute blond girl always gets a lot of attention from the latin ‘lovers’, so her name was changed into the lovely ‘Sandrita’. And she still goes by that name…It really suits her 😉

So how does your first name affect your identity? If it changes, are you still the same person? Do you ask all your friends to call you by your new name? How do they respond?

And just how important is your first name for you ?

When I look back at my own past, I once had short hair and we had 2 Berts in the classroom. So, I was ‘Ernie’ for a while (yes, I already know the joke about the banana!). Later on in the gaming comunity my nickname was ‘Tsunami’ (I was a heavy Defender, sweeping most attacks and a swift Scout, stealing their flag!)

What about your nicknames? What’s the story behind it… I invite you to share 😉

Enjoy every day,

Bert


Lessons on the Camino

June 25, 2007

I learned a lot of lessons on the Camino.

It will take some time to write down all of them, but I want to make an effort to publish at some of the lessons that made my trip special.

I am back home for 1 week (already!), but I am still contemplating on the Camino every day…

We enjoyed a great weekend with good friends in the Ardennes. One of them is getting close to a burnout. He is always tired, lacks energy, just want to stay at home, he sleeps badly, is extremely busy at work, etc. Sounds a lot like I used to be, right? 😉

Now, he was so enthusiastic about our Camino, that he is now thinking about walking his own one! We are researching some extra info on the Camino following the coastline for him. Anyway, it is likely that he will start in a couple of months…he wants to take some time off to think about his life.

The hardest part is often to make up your mind about what it is, you really want in life. I call it a mission in life. Once you have a mission it becomes easier to fit in everything you do into your mission or you just don’t do it…

Enjoy every day,

Bert


I made it to Santiago!

June 18, 2007

Despite the harsh weather conditions (heavy rain, strong wind, …), I made it thursday 14th June to Santiago! YES !!!

On that last day of hiking (a smashing 44km!), I finished around 5 o’clock in the ‘Officina de Peregrinos’, where I got my certificate…

Of course, the first thing I did was call my wife, Tonia 😉

Several people I have met on the way where there to hug me, kiss and celebrate. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but I was so glad I made it.

Luckily, a great Italian friend, Gabriella, had made reservations for a hostal room, so I did not have to worry about this.

After a warm, well deserved shower, we went into the town to see who had arrived also.

800km, can you believe it? It seems impossible at first, but then after a couple of weeks you reach one third, then you are half way. Further down the road, the countdown has begun, only 200km left, only 100km left, ….

Anyway, I learned a couple of lessons (sometimes the hard way) on this trip, but I ‘ll be back to share them with you!

In the meantime, enjoy every day,

Bert


What can you do in one day ?

June 12, 2007

How much can a person do in a day?

What can you do in one day ? Does it make a (real) difference if you do it today (or not) ?

Why do we often do less than we planned for ? Is it because we overplan or underperform ?

I went on this trip with little preparations (if I compare with my fellow pilgrims). Even the daily planning I skipped. I just started and saw where I would arrive at evening.

Most of the days I arrived where I wanted to be. Sometimes I went a bit further and sometimes I stopped early because I listened to my body (e.g. backache).

So, are we doing the same thing in our professional life ? Are we planning too much ? Do we want too much too fast ? I don´t know… I do know that I take live much easier now. Less stress, more enjoyment! This is my wish to you all…

Enjoy every day,

Bert


Today the 100km marker

June 11, 2007

Today we are passing the 100km marker.

I hope to arrive on friday or maybe on thursday evening in Santiago.

My feet are getting better. I only got 5 new blisters, all small ones.

My back hurts a lot these days and lucky as I am, I got 2 massages for free! One from a gentle Englishman living in Denmark and one from a German hospitallero. They both are professional therapists. I enjoyed it very much!

Yesterday, I went to Samos, apparently a famous monastery with 365 windows.

Today we are walking to Portomarin.

Stay tuned!

Enjoy every day,

Bert


At what time do you get up?

June 7, 2007

Tonight I slept very badly. Together with 43 other people and some of them snoring (not me!)

At 4 o´clock, I got up to go to the toilet. The first man was already washing and preparing to go.

Most of the people were out of the albergue by 5h30 ! I am way behind, but it does not matter really. Some of the arrive at their destination between 11h and 13h. I will probably at 15h. There is always enough space, so the only reason I can think of is the heat.

Only during the last 3 days the sun has been shining with no clouds and only a little bit of wind. So, it must be something else, right?

I´ll ask around 😉

Enjoy every day,

Bert