When the going gets tough!
The Camino of life carries pain and joy in equal measure. One day, the sun is shining, the next a deluge. Life asks questions of you; out of nowhere it pushes you deeper into a space you may not have known before. Voices from afar remind you that the haze will lift and a whole new way will open up before you. You’ve just got to dial in on your tried and trusting coordinates and find the strength to keep going – one step at a time.
Back in 2010, I saw things a little differently to how I do today. I lived life in the fast lane, taking on one challenge after another and rarely slowing down to find my bearings for life beyond business. Once on the treadmill, I moved at pace in feverish pursuit of my latest goal, running, running… running to standstill. My plan was to build a 7-Screen Cinema in my hometown of Gorey, sell it on to an operator and then turn my attention to developing the surrounding site into a very modern leisure amenity for the town. Everything was on track… well so I thought.
A turbulent economic storm loomed on the horizon, almost unannounced. I could see the signs and desperately tried to sell before it wreaked its havoc. Within months, my site had devalued by over 3 million euro and I was left stranded with crippling debts that I could not sustain. I was powerless to withstand the torrent and felt buffeted about by life forces beyond my control. Everything I lived for at that time was being obliterated before my eyes. Not for the first time in life I had to ‘dig deep’. Not for the first time, the going got tough!
The next few years were a nightmare; dealing with the banks, selling the cinema to an operator who dragged out the retention fees on the build due to me for 4 years, and ultimately parting with my own home in Waterford so that I could clear my debt and move on with my life. I could lie and pretend I found a strength from day one. I didn’t. It was a dark time. I was staring into an abyss from which there seemed no return. I slowly picked up the pieces.
How we respond to those times when we’re tested most can make or break us. It can be easy to retreat, to withdraw into ourselves, to turn back. This time is your defining hour! The key is to keep believing in yourself especially when others may doubt you. We are made of the same stuff of the universe, stardust even, a creative force that endures to the last. The power you need lies within.
Self-belief is everything. It’s not being cocky or over-assured. It’s something less tangible. It’s protecting that distinctive ‘spark’ that makes you the person you are regardless of what others say and do. You must always remember that you have something unique to you that your true friends will always see. Those who might ridicule you from afar or run for cover when you need them most, let them go. Bear them no bitterness or rancour. The composure you need to do this is not earned cheaply. Once you delve within, you discover that fragile light shining through the cracks. There’s a life force at play here, minding you, protecting you… near yet far, guiding you home.
Your attitude will determine where you go from here. It can be easier to gravitate right back to the familiar and miss out on the opportunities this time presents. How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. If you’re not happy, re-set your bearings. If there’s something you’re itching to do, go out there and do it. Visualise, even dream, suspend your thinking for a while and allow your deepest instincts take over, draft a plan, then go for it. This first step, choosing a goal and sticking to it, changes everything. Choose wisely!
Life reverberates to a new beat when we surrender to the unknown. The outdoors offer refuge beyond the reach of a busy world. No matter how great the torment, nature, in all its wild abandon, reminds us that all will be well. The oceans roll into shore with melodic ease as crimson skies unfurl the promise of a new day. A walk along the river bank, or stroll across the headland, or swim in the sea, or cycle on the Greenway, or trail along an ancient path… all have the power to re-connect you to source as if for the very first time. Nature’s way is the only way!
Places of solitude and quiet connect us to source. We were never meant to heave from one target to the next at the speed of light. We need space to just breathe, to come to the well, to tune into the deeper melodic strains that make life worth living. We soon discover each note matters, we matter. Stillness calls us beyond ourselves in search of something deeper. Peace descends in the telepathic flights of the starlings as they make their way home.
Everyone walks to their own rhythm on Camino. We always try to pace it so that no one is left behind. The Camino of life is no different. It’s the steps in between that matter most as we make our way. The destination… that can come later. Kindness is what carries us when our own spirits begin to wane. I’d always notice those who slow their own pace so as to make time for someone else. The beauty of this gesture lies in its simplicity; a quiet word of encouragement, an attentive ear, a willingness to pause and take a breather. Unheralded acts of human kindness have a power beyond what the eye can see. The road does not seem as long anymore!
Always remember, you have a value beyond what the world can reach. No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here. Reach out for your destiny but with a light hold on the reins. Allow space for the universe to intervene. We are stronger when we are part of something greater than ourselves.
Dr Phil and Elaine are looking forward to rolling out our Celtic Ways Series in 2023 aimed at connecting iconic pilgrim walks and trails in Southern Ireland with the Way of St David along the Welsh coastline. Our May, July and September St Declan’s Way are now fully booked with places available for August (20th to 25th). Our next St David’s Way is in September (24th to 28th). Our Camino tour offerings include coach transfers, ferry crossing (where needed), accommodation, guest guides, packed lunches, evening meals, pilgrim passports, memorable cultural experiences. We tailor everything to suit you. For further information, check out www.waterfordcamino.com or email Phil and Elaine directly on firstname.lastname@example.org This marks our 70th blog since we started out in business together just over 6 years ago. Guess they capture the journey. Exciting plans to be announced in the months ahead.