As the pilgrims, make every step of your journey count

What you need to know:

We all need to take a pilgrimage into the unknown and whether we succeed or fail, the experience will enrich our lives

What makes pilgrims different from each other? Purpose. If you asked 10 people why they were doing a pilgrimage, you would get 10 varying answers. For some, the pilgrimage is an act of faith, for others, it is a form of supplication, and yet others are just there for the experience. You can be sure these individuals will get different results from their journey. Recently, while on a trip, I bumped into the thousands of pilgrims on their way to commemorate the Uganda martyrs.

As I watched people of all ages stream by, I was struck by this experience’s similarity to our lives. From a distance, we are all doing this thing called life but how each one of us does it, is what makes the difference. I want to commend the thousands of faithful who spare their time to do the pilgrimage whether it is to Namugongo, Mecca, or Jerusalem. It is not a simple undertaking and we can learn a few lessons from their experiences.

Life is not meant to be lived alone

Human beings are by nature social. We thrive in groups and I could tell that by observing the pilgrimage procession. The pilgrims moving in groups appeared to be enjoying the journey and seemed to be covering more ground than those who walked alone. Many of those who had done the journey solo seemed ready to give up any time or board the next bus to Namugongo. Modern life, more than at any time in history, is geared towards creating self-sufficiency and individuality. With the advent of social media, you can have virtual friends who can follow you and affirm you without you ever leaving your couch but even then, a time comes when you need to have a face-to-face interaction with other people.

Research shows that human interaction makes people happier and is more likely to reduce the possibility of depression, stress, and anxiety. So, if you want to have a healthy journey on this planet, create a circle of your favourite people to make it more enjoyable. Naturally, our families are our primary circle. But the beauty of life is that as we mature, we make our families. If for some reason your birth family does not do it for you, be more careful when selecting your own so you do not end up alone. But whatever you do, do not attempt to do life’s journey alone because it will become hell on earth.

Do not plan to fail

At school, we were always encouraged to try and fail but to not fail to try.  But as we become older, we realise that this attitude is good for juveniles. As an older person, I think it is more prudent to plan and prepare for every project or adventure. Acting on a whim which always fails is neither good for your reputation nor your mental health. I do not want to discourage anyone from trying out things but planning is key, whether it is getting married starting a new business, or walking to Namugongo. I saw many pilgrims who had fallen by the wayside and others on the verge of falling. Some were felled by wrong footwear, others the wrong style of walking, and others because they had disagreed with their leaders.

Whatever the case, always learn the rules of the game that you want to engage in and follow them to the letter. Do whatever is required of you to be successful at whatever you do. And if you do not succeed after giving it your best, as it so often happens, you will have a more valuable experience than the person who gave up at the first challenge.

You do not have to invent the wheel

Imagine if we all had to come up with original ideas to live. For starters, there would be no time left for us to enjoy our lives. Thankfully, those who came before left a blueprint for us. The most we can do is make things better by improving on their innovations rather than trying to reinvent the world.

Keep going

In life’s journey, we sometimes get discouraged by our progress. We look around and all we can see is that we are lagging behind our peers in so many ways. Once you start the comparison, chances are you will start panicking and end up making mistakes. This panic will blind you to your successes. For example, as I watched the pilgrims, I realised that the last pilgrim in Masaka was ahead of the first one in Mbirizi.

What was important is that they were still walking and, therefore, qualified as pilgrims. Similarly, that one step every day is taking you closer to your destination; you might be taking longer than your peers but you will certainly get there as long as you do not give up. Your hustle is your hustle, keep going.

Do something different

We all need to take a pilgrimage into the unknown once in a while. We need to leave our comfort zones and do what we are afraid of. And whether we succeed or fail, the experience will enrich our lives. I do not doubt that the pilgrims who made it to Namugongo gained new insights about their bodies, and faith and must have a new respect for those with whom they walked.

So, whether they get the material things many say are praying for or not, they have certainly gained much more than those of us who did not walk.