Walked: 15.3 Km (380.4 Km total)

The most instructive things happen when you meet people who are a mirror of yourself in a certain aspect of life. Today I walked with a German girl and we faced a problem which should be simple enough: should we walk to the nearest town, a measly 15 Km away, or should we walk 10 Km more into the next town. On one hand it was still early, the day was cool, next town was not too far away; and on the other the forecast predicted rain, and the albergue at this town had a very good reputation and the next one not so much.

I tend to defer these kind of close calls to anyone who is more opinionated, because I’m usually indifferent. But my company was exactly of my kind of decision making.

After discussing the problem, we decided to defer the decision until the last minute, so that we could observe the weather. When we got to the crossroads we still didn’t know what choice to make, so we left it to luck: we flipped a coin, and the coin said “continue walking”. I took a couple of steps and complained that I felt loss, and she said “if you feel loss then we should stay, the coin is just a trick to put your commitment somewhere, and by doing this you will feel the loss of the unrealized choice”.

“I never thought about it in that way, but perhaps you’re right. Let’s check out the albergue and make the decision there”. So we came into the town (which required a considerable detour) and visited the albergue. It was great. I was waiting for her to express enthusiasm, but she played my same neutral approach to the problem. I felt neutral towards either option still.

Finally, I framed the problem in a different way: what would I do if I were here alone? Then I noticed: I’d stay for sure. But I was enjoying her company and willing to accommodate to her choice. I was being a “nice guy”.

“We’re staying here” I declared, then quickly corrected myself: “I mean, I like it here a lot, I’m staying. If you like it too, then stay. Or continue walking if you feel like it. We’d catch up further along for sure”.

You’ve surely blocked a stranger on a sidewalk, you try to step aside for the other to pass, but the stranger performs the mirror movement blocking each other. A step in the opposite direction is repeated, and the same thing happens. It takes an exaggerated movement from one of the participants to break the mirror phenomena, allowing each other to pass (with a laugh, hopefully).

And that’s how we both ended up walking such a short distance today.