Dane Johansen's Walk to Fisterra: the final chapter
Dane Johansen reflects on his journey to Fisterra
After forty days on the Camino de Santiago, I have finally reached the end of my journey. From Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees to Fisterra on the west coast of Spain, I walked 850 kilometers with my cello on my back, performing 36 concerts en route and sharing Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello with thousands of people.
I remember the excitement of the first concert at the church in Roncesvalles. I was absolutely inspired by the quiet beauty of the quaint mountain town, the monastery and its serene chapel: after six years of planning my journey had finally begun.
Last night I played the final concert, perched on the cliffs at the lighthouse of Fisterra with the ocean far below, the sun setting in the west and a crowd of 100 pilgrims gathered on the terraced rocks to enjoy a final moment together at the end of the earth. The experience was sublime. As I looked around me at the smiling crowd I felt as I had in each of the churches along the way: incredibly fortunate and exceedingly lucky to have yet another opportunity to share my favorite music with so many wonderful people from all over the world. It was the perfect end to the journey of a lifetime.
I learned many profound lessons along the route, most of which are already steering my life in new directions. The Camino instructs that these lessons are learned quietly and each with a wonderful story. Here is one of my favourites.
One evening a group of us decided to walk from our hotel down to a lake, looking forward to what would have been our first swim since the start of the walk. The owner of the hotel told us to follow a path for about 400 metres and that we would find the landing. We set off and it was not long before doubt set in but we were on the prescribed path so decided to keep walking. Eventually the trail narrowed, the ground became soft and the smell made it abundantly clear that we were walking barefoot through a pool of manure! In that moment, it occured to me that everyone was happily tromping through excrement, blithely going the extra mile for a swim in a lake. I learned that sometimes you have to go further than anticipated and tread through filth up to your ankles. Most importantly, you have to remember not to carry expectations. We never reached the lake and were obliged to go back the way we had come, knowing what waited up the trail. Everyone was smiling when we returned to the hotel and a garden hose and we all agreed that it was one of the unforgettable evenings of the Camino.
My musical experience along the Camino was completely transformed when I decided to let go of expectations and control. I began the journey with the chief concern of achieving excellence in performance during my recorded concerts. My stress levels climbed and eventually I was extremely frustrated by elements beyond my control: cell phones ringing; cameras clicking and flashing; a priest walking back and forth through the front of his church preparing mass - not to mention exhaustion from walking 25-30 kilometers every day. I had to let go of my expectations and embrace the things I couldn't control. My focus shifted from the recorded product to giving the gift of music to as many people as possible and having a positive impact on their Camino experience. This shift of priorities allowed me to relax, enjoy the experience more fully and ultimately make better music anyway.
My life has been changed forever by the wonderful experience I enjoyed on the Camino de Santiago. As a musician the Camino helped me clarify my role: to help others experience beauty and to give them the opportunity to ‘be’ musicians themselves and share in a communication that bridges time, culture and language.
As a man, the Camino helped me better understand my spiritual self and to further define a philosophy that I know will help me navigate life’s challenges as my journey continues. Thank you to all of those who supported this effort with their time, talents and generosity. Perhaps the most important lesson I will take from my Camino experience is that we are capable of so much more when we work with others.
I would like to thank:
Musilia - for providing the best and lightest cello case for this adventure
KIND - for providing energy bars for me and my team
Danish Professional Audio, DPA- for providing microphones for use throughout this production
Lastly I want to thank my family, friends and colleagues for helping me through the past two years: thank you for your love and support.
- Dane Johansen
Dane will be performing recitals based on his experiences in Spain and plans to screen the film of his unique journey across the world. For more information please visit: www.percius.co.uk/clients/dane-johansens-walk-to-fisterra
Photos: Kayla Arend