On a related theme to my post of yesterday, one of the lessons of the Camino is to not judge the experience of others.
Even before I left the US, I saw posts on a Camino forum where people who had walked the Camino complained about those they viewed as somehow inauthentic pilgrims. I saw complaints, for example, about people clacking along with their hiking poles. (For the record, I am walking with poles; my orthopedist strongly recommended them given a problem I have been having with my right Achilles’ tendon.) I also saw a post by an acquaintance who had done part of the Camino discussing the fact that others had criticized her for walking too fast, suggesting she wasn’t getting a “real” Camino experience.
I have seen a lot of different things in my days thus far. Some people bus into the center of large cities like Burgos, not wanting to deal with long slogs through industrial sections. Some pay a service to transport their packs ahead rather than carrying them themselves. Others claim the motto EFS (Every F—— Step), meaning they will walk every step from St. Jean to Santiago carrying their own pack, no matter what. (That is certainly my hope.)
It is easy to judge, to decide others’ experience is not as authentic as our own. That they are not “real” pilgrims like us.
But everyone’s Camino is his or her own and everyone’s Camino is different. And people quickly learn that they are in no position to judge the experience of others; that their concern is simply their own Camino.
It is a useful lesson to bring home from the Camino.