I like to win. It's one of my hobbies, right up there with "being right" and "bossing people."
And there are enough old people on the Camino that most of the time I feel like I am winning. It's easy to breeze past the olds with a nod and a "buen camino," and feel young and fit and strong. There's only one problem with making pilgrimmage into a race:
Seriously. Germans are intense. And very efficient. Yesterday I spent most of the day walking with a German guy named Axle, who was a total riot, but in spite of being a chainsmoker in his forties, he practically ran up that mountain, leaving me huffing in his wake. Fortunately I have discovered the solution:
Just when I thought I was going to puke or pass out or die, I would stop suddenly, look down the mountain and sigh, "have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"
This way, instead of stopping because I can't go on, I'm choosing to stop. I'm stopping because I understand that pilgrimmage isn't a race, it's about slowness, and living with intention, and appreciating the little things. And also about winning, if not by being the fastest, then by being the most pious.
So the Germans can win the race, because I am clearly winning at ENLIGHTENMENT.