What happens when all the pieces of life fit together perfectly yet still result in feelings of ceaseless emptiness and dissatisfaction?
Despite the blessings of a prosperous life, Pat lives with a sense of dissatisfaction. He’s haunted by a feeling of purposelessness for which he cannot seem to find a solution. When a fateful phone call puts Pat on the proverbial edge, he knows he needs answers even if he doesn’t know the questions.
Pat recalls hearing of the Camino de Santiago—the five-hundred mile spiritual path through France and Spain that ends at the traditional burial site of James the Apostle. In his state of unrest and longing, Pat makes the bold decision to embark upon the ancient pilgrimage on foot.
Two Million Steps captures Pat’s incredible journey of self-discovery along his trek through Europe and the places, people, and events he encounters along the way. For Pat, physical pain becomes a badge of honor. Every step he takes leads him closer to healing his soul and to becoming a new person.
El Camino De Santiago
For over 1,000 years, El Camino de Santiago has been the 500-mile religious pilgrimage to El Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, where it is said the remains of Jesus' apostle, Saint James the Greater, lie.
While there are a number of routes, the French way is one of the most commonly traveled. Connecting St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, France to Galicia in northwestern Spain, this popular route is fed by three additional pathways to the Cathedral.
The 815 km journey starts at the foot of the French Pyrenees, and stretches through the Basque country, the La Rioja wine region, the sparsely populated Spanish Meseta and ends in Galicia. The hike is challenging because many individuals are not accustomed to walking long distances for up to forty days at one time.
Interview with Pam Wehrman Sissons of Ticonderoga 360
Q. For a first-time author of a memoir, you have achieved something many authors are never able to do: you have captured and shared your experience in a way that is not only personal but engaging, humorous, engrossing, and leaves the reader wanting more. Can you share a bit about the writing process?
A. There are many books written on this subject and most of them were the same old story with the same ending. When the decision was made to write the book, I felt the only way it could be good was to be different. I decided to mix it up and not only detail the steps taken, but to add as much humor and history that most other books leave out. Describing the stories that took place on the journey was easy, but I struggled with properly explaining the emotions involved. I worked on the story around my real estate business, so It took a long time for me to feel comfortable enough handing over to the publisher.
Q. In hindsight, what were your original expectations for this journey, both spiritual and physical? How was the reality different?
A. Spiritually, I knew changes were needed in my life. Something very powerful was calling me to do this. Prior to leaving, I could picture myself standing at the tomb of the Apostle St. James in Santiago Spain at the end of the journey. There was no doubt that walking the Way of St. James would make me a better person, and for the most part it did. Physically, the training lasted for months and when I left home, I was convinced that I was totally prepared. I wasn’t. I underestimated how difficult it would be. My strength continued to improve and by the time I reached Santiago, I felt I could have walked another thousand miles. The weight lost was also a bonus.
Q. The physical demands of this trip were enormous. Do you feel you were as prepared as you could have been, and what would you have done differently?
A. I knew this would be an incredible challenge physically, but I underestimated how challenging it would be. My training included daily walks of 3-5 miles during the week and 10-12 miles each day on the weekend around a busy work schedule. After Judy joined me on subsequent trips, she proved to me that the training is more than just walking. She focused her training in classrooms doing stretching, weight training, and yoga classes, and did less long-distance walking. This is a more balanced approach, and the next time I walk several hundred miles at a stretch, I will take her advice.