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Wordless Moments

We’re coming into the time when everything slows and everything shifts – the Holidays.

If one can get past the materialism that the great machine has infused into these seasons – Black Friday indeed! – there is far greater promise.

Rick Eigenbrod just got back from doing the Camino. He didn’t do pilgrimage lite – the 100 miles I have done with him previously from O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela – he did the full 500 miles from France to the north western corner of Spain: on foot.

Talk about back to nature!

He left behind the noise we all carry. You know, the background music –   “I’m don’t have/ am not enough. I’ll never get it all done. Those people! Don’t they think? Traffic! The election! The economy – what’s going to happen?”

And it rocked him. Getting away. Far away.

What hit him most was not the physical effort. Not the scenery. Certainly not the technology, although he was dismayed to see that pilgrims now apparently need smartphones. Competition for space at the next hostel aided by those has even invaded this citadel of quiet.

But the quiet remains – and that most impacted Rick. He couldn’t believe how far off the grid he got. Miles and miles and miles of silence – just being with himself and being grateful.

With gratitude comes a deep opening. Everything is just fine. And I can accept it just as it is.

That became the mantra between he and Michael – his hiking companion.

It is what it is. It’ll be what it’ll be.

When they were grinding up a seemingly endless hill, when they saw a squall line of cloud in the offing, and were tempted to start worried speculation, they learned to calm themselves. The weather is the weather.

It is what it is. It’ll be what it’ll be.

They had no control over the length or height of the pass. They certainly couldn’t change the weather. More aphorisms flow: Worry is praying for what you don’t want to happen.

These few words coming from a wordless center that overtook them shortly after they got past all the hubbub of checking the gear before embarking, trans-Atlantic and getting to St. Jean.

Because after that it was so simple.

Get up every morning, breakfast, walk. Lunch, walk. Find a bed, eat, sleep. Repeat.

Gradually the words fell away. Left with silence. A few elemental truths floated up. How lucky we are to be alive. How much your fellow pilgrims care about you – even though they don’t know you.

Rick had some grievous foot problems early on. Blisters and the rest – typical companions on the Way. At a refugio, a French Doctor had observed with concern his “doctoring” with moleskin and needles. Next day, he walked by as Rick paused on the rocky wayside a windswept morning.

“Ca va?”

“Oui, ca va.”

Miles and hours later, Rick pulled even with him. He reached out to momentarily touch his fellow traveler – I suppose to thank him for his concern. His hand met another – involuntarily extended in the same spirit. Their hands locked unbidden. They walked a few strides so linked until the moment ended. Not a word. But tons and tons of meaning, communication and caring flooded over that connection.

When Rick tells this, he is overcome. I felt I might be a traitor, relating such an intimate moment. I cleared it with him. But the impact continues today – weeks later. He is still trying to wrap himself around that moment.

In quiet, we have these opportune moments. Particularly in this upcoming season. Moments to appreciate those we live with as fellow travelers. Moments to think on how lucky we are – to be alive, in this time. Moments to be grateful. Moments away from the constant overdone stimulation of this era, to get closer to our true nature.

“The world is going to hell in a hand-basket.” – whatever a handbasket is.


It is what it is. It’ll be what it’ll be.


Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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