In today’s episode of Healing from Within, your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit-Answers- For Healing and Infinite Love welcomes special guest Kurt Koontz author of his newest book A Million Steps. Kurt will share his transformation journey of ditching his corporate day job to a life enhancing walk 500 miles across the Spanish countryside known as “Walking the Camino”.
It would seem that Kurt, like all the guests on Sheryl’s show, are asking intimate questions about life such as who are we? Why are we here? and how can we improve the quality of life for ourselves and others? We have recognized that in opening our hearts and minds to a greater reality of the nature of life, human evolution and creation, we often find the ways to master our fears and any limiting restrictions helping us create a more purposeful way of living.
Kurt shares the story of his walk on the Camino experiencing a new dimension to his sense of freedom, not knowing where he would find the next meal or sleep the next night. He shares stories from other pilgrims or journeyers he meets along the way as he climbs over the high meadows of the Pyrenees, quests through the unceasing wind of the Meseta, and dances in the rains of Galicia. While following the yellow arrows that mark the route, we will hear the personal history of addiction, recovery and love.
When asked why Kurt decided to walk 500 miles alone in foreign countries where he didn’t speak the language, Kurt says he started in France, crossed the mountains into Spain and cut across the plains to the coast and he began to realize he just “Wanted the time for an interior journey, contemplating my long unconscious youth, twelve years of being sober and to think about the love of my life, our four year relationship and where it was going….The first third of the trip is for the body, the second third is for the mind, and the third is for the soul which can be painful but as all awakenings and transformations, the deep work leads to beauty and joy at the end.”
At the first hostel Kurt stayed, the people he met and the advice he received from the hospitalero or man in charge, were all good advice…“This ees your trip, your life your adventure..do not make the trip for anyone else. Make eet for yourself. If you walk with a new friend and they walk too fast, say goodbye. Let them go. This is your trip. Your Camino is for you.” Sheryl says to Kurt, “An important lesson we might learn form that remark is that one must sing their own song, trust their own intuition or inner wisdom, and allow no outside influences or people to take you out of your own moment of awareness, beauty and truth.”
The next part of the journey was crossing the Pyrenees. Kurt tells us the “First day on the Camino is notoriously difficult..the trail from St. Jean leads to Roncesvalles..there are ten miles in France with the remaining six in Spain…” Kurt chose the Route of Napoleon an accrued ascent of almost 5,000 vertical feet through the French Pyrenees mountains. He then goes to write “I was completely hooked with the first step. I climbed the consistently steep trail for 5 hours to the summit at Col de Lepoeder. The sun shone with intermittent clouds streaming above and below my vantage points. In the valleys, the mountain peaks looked like jagged islands poking through a sea of giant cotton balls. Thousands of sheep grazed in the green hills, their bells clanging on air currents all around me. Multiple pairs of griffon vultures with their white heads and eight-foot wingspans soared overhead. I felt completely honored to watch them ride the thermals with so little effort. Several times, I found myself sitting on a rock, mesmerized by their flight patterns.” Sheryl says “I can totally visualize and sense the beauty of this scene and also the spiritual essence of your vision.”
Kurt tells us he met people from Korea, Switzerland, France, Hungary, Germany, Poland, the US and Canada. His primary companions were Peter, a German taxi companion, and Mikoli, a 19 year old student from Poland. Kurt writes, Mikoli exclaimed “anything is possible in this life.” Kurt goes on to say he was intrigued by his youthful optimism and wisdom and asked him to share more of his thoughts. Mikoli explained he had a lifelong fantasy of being able to see Pearl Jam perform a live concert. Six months prior to deciding to walk the Camino, the band made a stop in his hometown of Warsaw. He lived the dream from the ninth row as they rocked for three hours. In a matter of fact tone, he explained that by accomplishing this goal, he became confident that anything was possible in life. His enthusiasm was contagious. Sheryl believes Kurt had discovered a very important Universal Law or Principle..The Law of Attraction ..What we put our attention, interest and intention in can be drawn to us. With consistent effort and learning more about ourselves our interests and our destiny or life plan we can manifest and create the circumstances to fulfill dreams.
During the course of the walk, doubt made its debut and Kurt began to ask himself what he was doing there. Sheryl suggests that wherever there is spiritual growth and awakenings we begin to question our own fears or past impressions, and by going “within” and revisiting our thoughts we can develop new perspectives and awareness which help us move forward.
Kurt shares some thoughts about his father, mother, girlfriend Roberta, and his friend Jim who died from cancer and who he had worked with at Micron Technology. In thinking about the beginning of his life, Kurt relates that alcohol was a major force in his life until he was 37 years old. The long hours of solitude and walking in Spain gave him new insights into those years of his life..His dad was a functional alcoholic, a partner in the largest law firm in Idaho and mingled with many US Senators. In Kurt’s high school years, the first problems began to be very noticeable in his father’s behavior- problems at his law firm and he left to begin a new practice and was successful. Kurt, as a young man, was drinking and working in the restaurant industry.. “I realized when I finally stopped drinking that I was able to think and feel again..alcoholism prevented feeling my head, heart and soul and stifled my emotional development.” Sheryl relates that until one conquers fear from their earliest remembrances and observations from the people around them, they will engage in addictions as a means of escape and to avoid thinking fully about issues that they cannot control. In going within accessing your intuition plus a higher sense of personal reality, one begins to understand that it is not possible to control the outside world and conditions, but it is possible to be aware of your own feelings and needs and to create a healthier review of what is important to you so you can no longer be driven by past situations or other people’s motivations. This is the spiritual search for wholeness and a trust in life for yourself.
Kurt shares that his relationship with Roberta was meaningful and unlike the empty relationships with tolerant drinking companions. After 4 years, Roberta seemed to be retreating from their stellar love story and Kurt began to realize that when he returned from this trip, it might be over. Sheryl suggests that this is another challenge of the soul- to allow people to come and go in our lives as their unfolding story may bring them to other relationships and we must allow change and letting go of people and ideas for further development.
After Kurt’s father died, he found a loving and budding relationship with his mother and noticed that when one loses a parent, there is a natural tendency to appreciate the survivor. Change must be expected and people flow into our lives and out in order to share something that perhaps our soul hopes to discover..we are all unique and have something to offer the world and we are never alone surrounded by the beauty of nature and energy.
On a lighter note, Kurt describes the food experience along his journey. While the food may have been different from what he was used to at home, he was totally grateful for each meal and each new person he met. The spiritual awareness that came to Kurt was the best way to experience all aspects of the Camino by letting go of any and all expectations and by just accepting the current situation- to be in the moment. Not worrying about the lack of breakfast and accepting the situation with hope for a good lunch along the way, was a better way to exist. Adapting with joy was better than being in a negative and unhappy mood.
One of the women Kurt met, named Ellie, shared her story and her reason for being on this walk along the Camino. Elli had been discarded by her mother when she became pregnant at age 16. One year later in South Africa she suffered a rape. Later her daughter told her she would really like a father and recommended the current boyfriend of 4 years. Ellie married and they were happy, but a few years later the family found themselves in a Christian Cult religion..drained of their finances and almost precipitated the breakup of their marriage. They decided to abandon that lifestyle. When asked what was worse, the religious fiasco or the sexual assault, Ellie answered “The cult was a thousand times worse because they raped my soul…” Ellie had decided to do this spiritual walk or journey to find her way back to her soul-peace and self-love. The Spiritual message here is that people or situations may hurt us but we can only accompany them: we can’t fix them or change them…we can only love them and ultimately respect our own needs.
Kurt writes “As I walked the way I learned to follow the physical arrows and signs as well as the directions of my head and heart. Just as there are signs everywhere on the Camino, there are signs in life, pointing the way forward. I believe the main reason we miss life’s signs is we are not open to seeing them or too busy to notice. Once we start to see them, as I finally did after the death of my father from alcoholism, the ultimate key to success is having a confident inner faith to trust and obey the direction…Throughout my life the signs have always been present, but their brightness was dulled by the day-to-day routines that consume our lives.”
The main points to take away from this book are :
We all have strategies for preventing worry in our lives such as eliminating excessive exposure to network and cable news and focusing on reading is a type of meditation information and can keep the heart rate down.
Living in the here and now..not focusing on the past or worrying about the future.
Signs and faith in signs allow you to know you are not alone and help is available in any and all life challenges…listen and make the necessary changes..if you are in the wrong job, relationship or country there will be a big neon sign begging you to change…Keep marching forward with passion and enthusiasm
We are all connected and have a purpose..be open to letting people in your life and in learning about their lives.
By taking one step into the Unknown, Kurt opened up a new world of understanding of Self, the people he loved and the emotions and values he wished to develop in the days to come. Kurt and Sheryl hope you do the same. Begin to focus on what holds you back from being the magnificent loving Being you are and little by little with effort and consistency shed the layers of trauma, emotional stifling and fear to go forward towards an open free expression of joy acceptance and surrender to whatever presents itself in your life. You are the creator of your destiny and with high hopes, fine ideas, the support of open minded friends and your own intentions for improving everything in life, you make that possibility a reality.