Three decades ago, a middle-aged man took his young son on a journey on foot across northern Spain, a trip spanning 500 miles, starting from southwest France at St. Jean Pied de Port, heading west across the entire width of Spain to Santiago. During this time, Michael Shearer and his son go through a life-changing experience as they go "Walking a Rainbow." Now Shearer recounts this time in his memoir.
This is a true story that recounts a transformative moment in the lives of both father and son as they experienced hardship and revelation alike, coinciding with transitional periods in their lives—Michael as he entered middle age. Kes, the son, entered young adulthood.
They follow a pilgrimage route called El Camino (Spanish for "The Way") with pre-Christian origins that have been Christianized since the Middle Ages, though the author himself is non-Christian. During this trip, they will endure blistered feet, partake in glasses of wine, have philosophical observations, and learn ancient lore. They also encounter incredible characters, including a señorita seemingly sent by a higher power to test the author's resilience against temptation.
At the same time, readers will be treated to a journey that is full of laughter and love. Father and son share many hilarious moments and amusing incidents, often falling about laughing. Shearer's readers have expressed how much they enjoyed the humor, which led them to laugh out loud themselves.
"The experience the book narrates was profound and life-changing. I left my usual life and went off to walk across Spain. There I had no job, no meetings, no work colleagues to relate to." Shearer says. "Day by day, as I dropped off the Me I was accustomed to, I discovered that this habitual self was an artificial construct. I wasn't really like that. The at-home self had been formatted by my personal history. Another self began to emerge."
Readers will see how Shearer went from a bookish college lecturer of philosophy without any particular spiritual inclinations to a man uplifted by several transcendental experiences. At the same time, they will see how Shearer's son Kes grows from a lost child to an insightful and mature young man. The diverse cast of locals and fellow travelers brought together by El Camino also shows that people are inherently good, and forging connections is essential to living well.
"I think most people are created by their upbringing and habitual self. There is a fuller and richer self beyond those limitations. I thought this was an important fact that more people should know about." Shearer says.
"Walking a Rainbow" is simultaneously Shearer's recollection of a crucial period in his life as well as a love letter to Camino that might even inspire readers to follow the author in his footsteps to either fall in love with the scenic Spanish locales or experience similar life-changing epiphanies. Its message is that Camino does not end when one returns home, for everyone is doing their own Camino all the time.
About the Author
Michael Shearer is from Hackney in the East End of London. He studied at York University pursuing English Literature and Philosophy. Afterward, he did manual work in factories, building sites as well as in government offices, and a variety of other odd jobs. He then took a postgraduate teacher's training course and taught Formal Logic and English Language. He taught Philosophy and English Literature for more than 30 years and later also taught a variety of other subjects ranging from Classical Civilization to IT and Digital Photography. In 1966 he married and remained together with the same woman. Shearer enjoys long-distance walking, partaking in trips spanning 50 miles and upwards.