Hiking and philosophy? wtf 🙂

Pilgrimage vs. hiking

Pilgrimage vs. hiking It is not important what someone who is on foot calls himself, but it is interesting to look at the terms. Pilgrimage and hiking are not used synonymously even today, so where is the difference? Can this be derived from the history of words? From the etymology, the pilgrim is usually derived as someone who comes across the country (per agrum), from a foreign country (per-egrē), a stranger (peregrinus). All non-citizens were called peregrini in Roman times, only very few came overland. But these few were drawn to the flourishing Roman Empire, like immigrants today, currently mostly on foot, to change their lives, improve it if possible. After the spread of the major world religions, the term was appropriated by the faith communities. Especially in the Occident, the stranger who came over the land had become peregrinus. He was now one who, for reasons of faith, was drawn to meditative tranquillity or to a sacred place. Hiking as an end in itself or even to slow down one's life, was probably less in vogue. Both have in common the intention to change something in one's own life: sometimes for economic reasons, sometimes for reasons of the inner attitude to one's own being. Today's pilgrim has other reasons, adapted to the times. He is neither part of the great migratory movements for economic or political reasons, nor does he necessarily have to find peace in a religious community. He is looking for a personal meaning that gives him stability in the complexity of everyday life and the oversupply of new insights and developments. This very individual quest is to free the mind from useless ballast, to create clarity about future plans. From this inner cleansing, one regains security, inner peace, perhaps even a kind of happiness. Yes, and running seems the best way to do it. Pilgrimages and hiking, both are wonderful, none less than the other. Etymologically not really to derive, one could at least delimit the terms in this way:

  • peregrinus - Immigrants for economic reasons
  • pelegrinus - Hikers for reasons of faith
  • Pilgrim - Hikers in search of meaning
  • Hikers - Hikers for health, sporting or social reasons, or simply for the enjoyment (of nature).

The attitude towards the path

The intention to search for meaning alone does not make the concept of pilgrimage complete; the way in which one travels a path is also decisive. You can, for example, with the intention of enriching your life with meaning, somehow complete the last 100 km of the Camino frances, have your stamp impressed everywhere and pick up the Compostella at the end. Then it was the right intention, but the wrong way. This is not meant in a negative way, but you were more of a tourist than a pilgrim. And the intention will hardly come true, it was everything like the holidays before, only somewhere else. The pilgrim should realise his intention on the way. Means concretely: Doing something different than in everyday life, where stress and comfort zones go hand in hand. More exercise, more renunciation, more rest, think and approach everything more slowly. In the optimal case, one should only worry about the lowest needs: When and where will I eat? Where will I sleep? Will I arrive safely? Yes, also a certain uncertainty should be present, so that these simple thoughts keep the upper hand. For only then does calm set in in the brain, here and there new thoughts rise from the depths of the grey mass. And in the evening you should be tired from the tidy bit of walking, it's all about showering, eating, drinking, sleeping. You should then enjoy these things, reward yourself, so that you can endure the hardships. Now something is changing, of course not the first days 🙂.

Search for meaning - How now exactly?

Search for meaning First of all, the broad concept of meaning should be limited to the philosophical concept. Now you have to decide further: Do you look for the meaning of your own life or the meaning in everything? For meaning in one's own life, one would have to narrow down to meaning as the meaning and goal of one's own life. For the meaning in everything one deals with the metaphysical (ultimate reason for everything) or teleological (ultimate goal for everything) meaning. No matter meaning you are looking for, numerous clever people have written thick books and made suggestions. An important train of thought in this is that we are only compulsively try to make sense of everything. The meaning itself does not exist. Nevertheless, much remains unclear because the concept of meaning is so vague. If it is not 42 like in the novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy or the question of it is doomed to eternal failure as in the Monty Python film, why is the search for meaning booming exponentially?

I assume that in times of expressive self-realisation hardly anyone packs their hiking gear for the philosophical concept of meaning 🙂. But more likely to break out of a personal hamster wheel: Boring routines, information overload, time pressure, pressure to succeed, having to present oneself or even hold one's own. The eternal "dick measuring contest" has certainly brought advantages in evolution, personal happiness rather more rarely. Often it then takes a final trigger to question one's own view of the world into question: Burnout, illness or others. The search for meaning begins, the search for a new way of life with which one can continue one's life in a more relaxed way. In this way, one could understand the meaning as an inner attitude towards oneself. What do I want? Not my neighbours or followers. Do I have to assert myself and or is it enough if I am satisfied with myself? Is it so important who I am and what I do, what role do I play in the course of time? I have built my new attitude on the foundation of humility, humility before the coincidence that I live here now, humility before the fact that in 100 years no one will remember me. Humility before time, humility before the overpowering things around me. Every now and then, ego or ambition overshoots the mark and you get under stress. Then I sit down in my thoughts in my little spaceship in the Milky Way and try to recognise the planet on which I live. It is too small, moreover, it is ephemeral. My own importance is put into perspective again. If the meaning in the philosophical sense is unclear, but the modest meaning of my life is unimportant and ephemeral, why am I writing something here? Because I'm enjoying it right now 🙂.

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