For the last several years I have wanted to share my research about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in the Internet Age but I’ve faced a conundrum – how to do it effectively in this new world we live in? One of the challenges of the Internet Age is that people absorb and consume information differently than they did when I published my book Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago (UC Press) in 1998. Writing a book about my research in 2016 or 2017 felt less and less relevant. The challenge of information overload that I describe in my current research caused me to question how I could best share my research and deep reflections about this subject with the general public. I realized that perhaps the best way to reach my audience was to go to them via the internet where many of us now find ourselves spending many hours every day.
I decided to create a website to present and share my research in a format that will hopefully be easy to access and enjoy. I hope that my research and articles will stimulate your curiosity, cause you to reflect and encourage you to come back and hopefully connect as fully as possible with your on-the-ground, face-to-face reality. As Levi Felix, the late founder of the company Digital Detox, said, “I love that technology connects us…. but we have to learn how to use it, and not have it use us.”
This site is my way of sharing and giving thanks to all of those who’ve given so much to me all of these many years along the Camino. The Camino has been an incredibly powerful and impacting experience in my own life and I know how vastly different my first experience would have been if I’d done it in the Internet Age. I would like others to experience, if they choose, the profundity that I did. I know this depth of experience would have been impossible if I had been in constant connection with my home reality and distracted and comforted by the artificial support of my phone as people typically are now. Welcome to Walking to Presence!
Walking to Presence is a paradox. Being present is attainable now, right now, every moment of the day. It’s not something that needs to be walked to because it’s always here with you. All it takes is one breath, one moment of pause, one moment of inner connection and awareness to be present. Reality though is often different. It often feels like a constant journey to presence. One becomes present and then moves away from presence into non-productive thought dominated by past or future worries.
The website promotes strongly the idea that our relationships with new media technologies (social media, mobile phone addiction, constant connection and distraction) strongly impact our ability to be present and connect meaningfully with ourselves, nature, others and the world around us. Based on 25 years of experience walking, observing and researching the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage (both before the rise of the Internet and during the Internet Age) this site offers resources for pilgrims and potential pilgrims to Santiago to help deepen their pilgrimage experience along the Camino.
One access pathway to presence is walking especially when one makes the conscious effort to walk with focused awareness. On the Camino de Santiago path (or walk that you take) reducing the exterior noise and surrounding oneself with natural beauty typically help calm the inner noise as well. People describe this as being more present or being in the here and the now. Both walking and nature are soothing and calming to the mind. This website explores how walking, especially along the Camino de Santiago, can help you be more present and connect more deeply with the here and the now. Becoming present is a journey. For some it is a short one and for others it may be a daily, long journey as we slip in and out of our minds without even being aware of it.