In a few days leading to Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, I asked myself constantly, “Do I need everything I have?”
The insignificant load we carry takes up so much space in our hearts through the way we live our lives. Our compulsion to have more wealth by working so hard at the expense of family time, our penchant to have an extravagant lifestyle, our insatiable craving to keep up with the Joneses, and our desire to be the most successful chief executive officer (CEO) in the industry.
I became a victim of material obsession more than 20 years ago. These fixations happened early on in my corporate career and I paid dearly for it. I suffered a complete depletion of energy and had to retire at a relatively early age of 40. Ominously, it happened when I was at the peak of my corporate career.
All throughout our life’s journey, we think we cannot live without the material things, but in reality we don’t need them as much as we thought we do. These material desires are distractions, and they can slow us down.
Ultimately, material desires take out the happiness and love for the family. In my years of coaching family-owned businesses in Asia, I have witnessed how founders and business owners callously drive their children to excel in business but regrettably and woefully fail to inculcate family values such as good parenting, love, unity, and stewardship. These values determine the kind of family and business we have long after the senior leader has passed on. When parents do not express real love towards their children, family harmony is threatened. In the end, real wealth is all about simplicity, because real happiness comes from the heart. As St. Ignatius once said, “Happiness does not depend on how many things you have, but on how much we love God and others.”
“Our problems are nothing”
During my Camino de Santiago walk, there were times when I wanted to stop, but for as long as my wobbly legs could manage to hold up, even if I fell one more time, I knew I will rise up and walk. It was my desire to continue walking. Just like life, you can’t quit. Whatever curveball is thrown at you; you must not stop. You can pause but you can’t stop because life’s challenges keep up with you.
Though my days were limited, all the sacrifices I went through during the walk and the brutal climb at the Pyrenees (the mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe) was a test of my faith and my endurance. And being a first time Caminoan, it felt like Calvary. Overall, the exhaustion we felt during the journey resemblances the sacrifices that millions of pilgrims experienced in their Camino journey during the past 12 centuries. As Joe Soberano, a fellow Caminoan and founder and CEO of listed firm Cebu Landmasters said, “Everytime I embark on this pilgrimage, I am constantly reminded that I am nothing compared to the thousands of pilgrims who have suffered and endured more adversities.” Which is true, our problems may only be a shred compared with the challenges of others. (To be continued)/WDJ