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    Ring the bells that still can ring

    One time and again, I pressed the doorbell, hoping that someone would answer my call. The silence was all I could hear. A mixture of excitement and fear took over my mind.

    Something important was about to happen.

    About a month ago, I returned to my alma mater in Leuven, a quiet student town outside of Brussels, a place where I spent an important period of my life.

    More than 20 years ago, I rented a room with a lovely Belgium family. Pierre and Dorothee, at the time, would be in their mid-seventies, and during many months we crossed our ways for brief moments; I was leaving the house very early and returning very late.On one of those never-ending winter nights, I entered the house on my tip toes, it was around midnight, and everyone seemed to be asleep. When I passed in front of Pierre’s office on the way to my room, I noticed that the door was open and the light was on.

    I looked, and I saw a face with a gentle smile. Pierre asked me to join him and take a seat near his desk. I was tired from a very long day at School and depressed by the lack of sunshine. The temperatures seemed stuck on the same number, always close to zero, and above all, I was missing my family and friends.

    That same night I received from Pierre an amazing present. He asked me to put down my backpack and look at it as if it was my life. He continued, explaining that whatever we decide to put inside, we need to carry.

    I took a different look and noticed that It was really heavy—many books, a heavy laptop, and especially a hard time seeing the road ahead. Pierre told me that sometimes we must stop and look at what is inside. If it is too heavy, we better take some things out. If it is too light, check if you need something.

    It made sense, a lot of sense.

    After that day, I never looked at the weight of my backpacks the same way, and honestly speaking, this is an exercise we often do at the beginning of our Walking Mentorship programs.

    And here I was, twenty-plus years later, ringing at Pierre’s house to see if I still could find him. I remained silent in front of that massive wooden door for very long seconds. I thought about leaving and continuing my journey, but something told me to stay, to insist, even if I was about to receive sad news.

    After a couple more attempts, the door finally opened, and one lady I never saw before let me in. To her surprise, I explained who I was, and she shared with me that Dorothee had died ten years ago. I prepared myself for the second part of the sad news, but instead, she asked me to follow her into the living room and warned me Pierre might not recognize me.

    He had turned 99 years old. 

    I entered a place I remembered well and suddenly saw the same gentle smile from that cold night back in time. I was so happy to see him. We hugged, and I could feel Pierre’s fingers touching my hand as if to say I’m here. I’m alive.I don’t remember how long we talked, but we both cherished that time as a moment for eternity because, as Leonard Cohen has put it perfectly…

    Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack, a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in

    I left with tears in my eyes and soul, feeling blessed that I could live such a moment.Back in the car, I thought that Pierre had achieved the perfect weight for his backpack, not too heavy or light, a backpack ready for eternity.

    What about you? How heavy does your “backpack” looks like?

    If you need help checking, don’t hesitate to come for a walk with us. This August, we will cross the Alps to meet our better version.P.S.* The picture portrayed on the article’s cover was taken by my son Santiago, who was traveling with me to Leuven, and I had the fortune to share such a special moment with him.


    A beautiful moment is waiting for you outside. It is time to pick up your headphones and walking shoes to listen to our new Keep walking with me podcast episode. Join us in a conversation with inspiring music with Alberto Otero, the founder and Chief Purpose Officer of Just on Purpose and Co-Founder of Purpose Collective.

    Click on the image to listen.

    In May, we were on the Burn(out) Stress program together with the Association of Nurses and walked again along Rota de Berobreu in Galicia on our Signature program, a one-of-a-kind experience for people facing great challenges in life.

    Click on the image to watch the video.

    Click on the image to watch the video.

    Parents & Kids | Spain 22 July – 29 July (1 place available)
    Via Francigena | Switzerland 26 August – 2 September (3 places available)

    Click on the image for more information.

    Click on the image for more information.


    Walking Mentorship is a labour of love that helps you gain deeper insight and equips you to create a meaningful impact on your life and those around you. How can we work together? We keep things simple by offering GroupIndividual, and Corporate programs. Check the best fit for you. Until then, keep walking with me,

    Joao Perre Viana - Walking Mentorship

    Upcoming programs

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