Life certainly takes a winding road sometimes – Kurt Koontz was a successful sales executive for a Fortune 500 company. “Retiring” fairly early he is now a newly minted author and gives lectures and presentations on his life lessons learned. The name of his book, A Million Steps” reflects the amount of steps he estimated he took over nearly 30 days hiking the famous Santiago Compestela route – all 490 miles of it.
This book is not merely a chronicle of his journey but rather an intertwining reflection of his personal history – with addiction, recovery from and a spark of hope that he nurtures along the hike to try and recapture a current relationship upon his return to the United States.
The walk itself can certainly be physically challenging (he covered anywhere from 20 to 40km per day) – but what makes this journey unique are the shared bonds that form between the pilgrims over their own hardships and the time that this journey allows each of them for personal reflection. It is also a journey of selflessness – those walking help others out whether it is through help with directions, food, timely needed gifts or emotional encouragement.
Koontz writes well and easily; this is not a how to to guide for the pilgramage, although anyone considering this walk should definitely pick up a copy of this book. He covers a number of details and stories from his own walk – as a journey such as this one is certainly about the details. The faces change each year, but the inspiration and overwhelming emotion of completing this journey – arriving at the famous Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is something that will never change.
He writes of experiencing a standing room only service in this famous church upon arrival, “Tears streamed out of my eyes as I witnessed one of the most beautiful scenes in my entire life”.
The reader is left with some resources at the end of the book; a playlist selection (Koontz walked with more than 600 songs – he lists just some of his favorites) and additional resources for those interested in making this journey.