Creative Thoughts – 27th September, 2021.

Photo by Damien DUFOUR Photographie on Unsplash

Today started at 2:30am, taking my youngest son to the airport for his trip to Malta. In return he has promised me a tacky plastic replica of a Knight of St. John. There are many myths, truths, and lies about this order of men who initially dedicated themselves to providing hospitality and protection for pilgrim travellers to many places including the Holy Land.

We are all on our own individual pilgrimages.

The Camino de Santiago de Compostella, the Way of St. James to Santiago in Northern Spain, now famous in travel books, vlogs, and even movies, teaches that we are always on ‘the Way’.

Our lives are an endless pilgrimage.

Every footstep, every place we visit, every person we come into contact with, changes us and has the potential for us to change them.

On the Way there is lots of time to think and reflect.

Our Creativity is the sum of those footsteps and thoughts, the places and the people, and as countless others before us out attempts to understand our place in creation.

The manifestation of this today when I crept through the door at 5:45am, trying to keep the dogs quiet and not wake my wife, was to write a proper ‘welcome’ to this site.

The words quickly unfolded the influences and struggles of my expression of creativity up to now. Conscious that it needed to be longer than ‘Hi!’ and shorter than Anna Karenina, there is a great deal which is left unsaid.

But it is a starting place. It is that first step of a pilgrimage, which traditionally, starts from your front door. It is my Buon Camino! – Good Journery or Good Way! – to you as our paths cross or join even if it is only for a short time

Greet others! Share your creativity!

Buon Camino!

Herbie.

Discard.

Having expectations and an overall aim are widely believed to be useful for success.

Some suggest that to be truly successful you have to break everything down into stages and specific blocks of thought and action.

Many people do achieve what they set out to using this style of methodology.

Sometimes, however, we are not clear or honest enough in our criteria.

I want to paint a cathedral is perhaps only part of our thinking, and maybe it should read I want to paint a cathedral just like Monet did.

When the image doesn’t look like we wanted it to, then we feel a sense of disappointment and doubt our abilities as a creative.

This type of thinking can affect every creative no matter what the medium.

So what can we do?

Discard.

Search through those drawers and cupboards of expectations, find them out hidden at the very back, and recycle them, or if they are plain broken then take a trip to the skip.

Discard what is not useful or helpful, no matter how long we have held onto it.

When we approach any creative endeavour we need to know the direction of our journey, but let go of the way markers we think we must count before arriving at the destination.

Like a pilgrimage, the Way should alter us.

The experience, spiritual and physical, of the journey will effect and influence us, and this will be seen in our creativity.

Monet was changed by the light. He realised that it couldn’t be captured in one painting, so he chased it. across a number of canvases, switching from one to another as the light moved.

Monet started out painting a cathedral. He finished painting light, which happened to have a cathedral in it.

Imagine if the French painter had only produced one canvas of the building in the way he thought it should look originally?

Discard your assumptions and expectations, and learn from the process, tools, and the materials you are using, how the image should finally look.

Like home and business experts advise us, take time each month to declutter and discard (or recycle) our things and our environment.

As a creative person, a major part of this should be our expectations in the realising of our final pieces.

The Way After – Day #6

Today’s route is from Zubiri to Pamplona. A distance of 21.1km.

Famous for the Festival of San Firmin and the ‘running of the bulls’, the city is the largest place and population along the Camino route.

San Fermin, or Saint Fermin, is one of the two Patron Saints of  Pamplona – the other being San Francis Xavier – who died in 303AD. One legend has it that his death was due to being dragged along the street by a bull, but this was unlikely to have been in the city itself.

Just before entering Pamplona is a village called Villava. 

This was the birthplace of five-times Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain.

He was a huge cycling hero of mine, along with Laurent Fignon and Gianni Bugno.

During or after his initial treatment – I can’t remember which – Sando got bitten by the ‘Brompton Bicycle’ bug. I couldn’t work out if he was more taken by the idea of the bike folding up or that there was a bag to put it in?

He had a number of forays out upon the roads once he had purchased one, but his pinnacle was taking part in a Brompton race in London.

It may not have been running with the bulls in Pamplona, but it was certainly more technical than motor racing with a Le Mans-style start, which in this case was unfolding your bike before setting off on the route.

He may not have won, but neither did the ‘bulls’ catch up with him.

He had made it past that first Christmas – which had been given to him as an event which he was unlikely to celebrate – and he fully intended to stay ahead of any further medical predictions.

His was ‘on the Way’.

It may not have been the route he had been expecting to travel, but he did not hesitate in passing through Pamplona and continuing the journey.

The Way After – Day #4

Traditionally, any pilgrimage route began from your front door step.

Today the most common starting point for El Camino de Santiago begins across the Spanish border in the French town of St. Jean Pied de Port.

St. Jean is the historic capital of the Basque Country which encompasses land and communities on both sides of the Pyrenees.

It is also a dramatic start with the route quickly elevating to a total height of 1429m and 14.2km of the total 24.7km for the day involving going uphill.

The beginning of El Camino seems to reinforce the observation that life can unquestionably be difficult.

Challenges abound. It is easy to lose motivation. It is easy to give up.

But how much of the challenge of the first day comes about because of a general lack of preparation?

How much comes down to a sense that walking should be easy, or is easy, or not as difficult as running, so some other such notion.

In the movie The Way, Joost sees a cyclist on the trail and expounds ‘You can do this on a bike? Why did no one tell me?’

Sando originally spoke of completing the Camino on bikes. It would seem easier to have completed the Way pedalling, certainly in terms of time taken. He became convinced that the route had to be walked. The ability to accomplish this inevitably delayed us in our efforts.

Sando’s diagnosis of a brain tumour delayed much that he would have wanted to accomplish.

Those first months were very much like the profile of the first day on ‘the Way’. Tough. Uphill. A struggle. No obvious end in sight. No particular alternate route, which was any easier. 

You simply had to put one foot in front of the other.

Walk the route which many others have done before you and take solace from the fact that they made it to ‘Roncesvalles’.

Sando certainly became aware that there was a wider community of cancer patients and survivors out there and he wanted to be part of that continuing community offering support to others through his experiences.

There is a saying that there is more which unites us than divides us.

I am sure that this is true, but to discover this we need to take those first steps outside our front doors.

We need to engage in action and then the ensuing connections with others will come. 

Denmark is reckoned to be one the happiest nation in the world and one of the concepts at the heart of their daily lives is that of clubs or societies, with most people spending three or more evenings a week engaged in specific activities with others.

The first pilgrim guest house in Roncesvalles was built in 1127 and recorded in a poem:

The door opens to all,

To sick and healthy,

Not only to true Catholics

But also to pagans, Jews,

Heretics, the idle and vagabonds.’

El Camino opens the door to us all but do we open our door to all?