Nothing is Truly Original
All of us are genuinely unique, but very, very few of us can say that we've ever done or said anything genuinely original... I mean, think about it... Every joke, every thought, every experience utterly our own but also utterly unoriginal. Every Knock, Knock joke is just an adaptation of some other Knock, Knock joke. Every clever play on words is too. All of science is just bringing together someone else's theory with another postulate. Can we say that an observation is an original thought? From poetry to art to really every human thought, we're dependent upon the ideas and form and language that we inherit from someone else...
Even this thought isn't mine - I'm stealing it from Fr. Chad Partain. When he first said this to me, I thought he was crazy. But the more I think on it, the more I'm sure he's right. Of course, he stole the idea from someone else - but that would be a logical necessity...
Books & Movies I Recommend
I say all of this just to give me an excuse to share with you some of the books and movies that have been formative for me as I prepare to make this upcoming series of pilgrimages...
Here are some books and films which have been formative to me as I prepare to walk the Camino de Santiago:
This is the quintessential movie to watch to get an idea of the Camino. It's great! Sheen is a typical middle-aged American happily cloistered in a successful career but with a broken family. He finds freedom in the journey. It's not 100% accurate of the circumstances of the Way and Martin Sheen can't appear in any movie without in some way thumbing his nose at Catholic Doctrine (have you seen the West Wing - c'mon!) In this case, <--Spoilers--> he spreads the ashes of his deceased son across the entire trail. Still. the movie is excellent and it's made a lot of people want to hike the Camino.
Walking with Spring
Earl Shaffer was the first man to through-hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He did it in the most manly way possible... Literally, he was tired of getting blisters so he filled his boots with sand to toughen his feet. That's Cardinal Sarah level manliness. He also wrote some top notch lyric poetry. Manliness factor: 10.5
A Walk in the Woods
Bill Bryson is hysterical. His travel books are wonderful. This is the story of how he and his friend Katz - two overweight, underexercised men - hiked almost 1000 miles of the AT. Great book and realistic portrayal of distance hiking!
FYI: Some Vulgarity.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
More than any other book or film on this list, this painfully honest autobiography of a young woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail makes me want to do more long-distance hiking. I came across this book at a tough moment in my life and it hit the spot.
FYI Lots of vulgar language and adult themes. Not for the kids.
Wild with Reese Witherspoon
This is the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's book. It's pretty good. The movie doesn't do some parts of the book justice, but it captures the ethos really well. Sadly, this film is not safe for kids as the book's author's personal problems are shown in graphic flashbacks.
FYI Not appropriate for kids. Vulgarity, Sexuality and Drug Use.
Rick Steves' Europe
Rick Steves is my favorite guidebook author. He's practical and he's focused on value. This book is great for a first time traveler and for the more experienced crowd alike.
This is one of the four quasi-official guide series for the Camino. I like Brierley a lot. He's preceise and opinionated. One of the hardest things about prepping for the Camino is the multitude of choices for everyting. Brierley is great about cutting through the confusion. Be warned, though, he's got some new age nonsense that he spreads through the text...
Relevant, But Not Recommended
Pilgrimage: The Road to Santiago
The BBC, y'all. They put together what should have been a slam dunk documentary. They got six really neat people and followed them on pilgrimage. Of course, though, two of six are anti-religion and anti-Catholic, two are agnostic, one is a new-age goof and the only "Christian" is an Anglican Vicaress who says in the first ten minutes that she doesn't really believe in God... This series is garbage and I do NOT recommend it to anyone.
The Camino by Shirley MacLaine
What a mess. This is basically a book length creed of Shirley MacLaine's crazy new age nonsense. It begins with a lengthy discussion of Ley Lines and Vibrations and vibrates out to increasing degrees of lunacy.
Strongly, Strongly NOT recommended.