One of my favourite places is the Albaicín in Granada, Spain. This neighbourhood of narrow streets between whitewashed houses has survived pretty much intact in the centuries since it was built by the area’s Muslim inhabitants.
It’s on a hill opposite the Alhambra, the glorious palace complex that glows red against snow-topped mountains.
The best spot in the Albaicín is a square with a view of the fortress. I could sit and gaze all day and all night.
This is a neighbourhood to wander and gently lose yourself. Alleys heading north twist east then south, and before long you’ve no idea where you are. A street that looks familiar turns out to be new territory, and yet another that appears new is a laneway you visited in the other direction.
So I would happily wander, going somewhere lost. And however far I’d think I’d travelled, I’d always end up back at that square with the view of the Alhambra and the guitarist plucking flamenco.
I thought I was getting somewhere but kept coming back. I thought I was lost but was never far from home.
Perhaps this is the most important thing I’ve learned about being home, about knowing who we are. However far I thought I was from home, it was always there, perhaps just around the corner. However many journeys I made, home was always present.
We wander our lives looking for who we are, how we fit in, what we’re doing here, yet we forget we don’t need go anywhere because the answer is right there, beside us, inside us.
It’s the most wonderful revelation and the most curious joke. You thought you had to find yourself! Ha! Here you are, back at square one!
Just sit and enjoy the view!