The father of my own would spend his days roaming the mountains and valleys of a country you can drive around in a day, guiding the goats that relied on him for protection.
This was no easy job. Sometimes it was dangerous. My grandfather would weave his way through cedar-flecked villages, withstanding the elements and doing his best to keep out of trouble. For this, he needed good sense, and even better navigation skills. Luckily for him, he had both.
So you would think he’d pass this inner compass down to his oldest grandchild? -->
Thanks Jheda! (grandfather in Arabic)
This unshared DNA has led to many instances where I've resorted to asking strangers for directions, in a city I've grown up in. Sometimes I fight the temptation to adopt a foreign accent, to explain why I’m getting lost in a suburb I ought to know like the back of my hand.
After all, it’s hardly my fault that my brothers and cousins hogged more than their fair share of my grandfather’s genes, I reassure myself as I frantically consult a map.
Don’t feel bad for me though, sometimes this sense of un-direction can come in handy.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you can end up anywhere, which can be a blessing.
Few things in life are certain. We’re always walking towards the great vastness of an unknown that manages to terrify and thrill at the same time.
The simple process of putting one foot in front of the other, walking to nowhere in particular, as you lose yourself to the gentle thudding of shoes, can open your mind and heart to possibilities you wouldn't otherwise imagine. It soothes your soul, step by step, as you walk everything away. Sometimes with bare feet, when feeling wild.
And it might even lead to a physical location so beautiful you'll wonder why you never discovered it before, especially when it's a short walk from your home.
This happened when my friend and I embarked on a walk, one sweet day, when the excitement of her impending wedding was in the air and our chatter turned to a future that only those in love inhabit.
How would two geographically challenged people find this gem again? (Ok, fine, I’ll wear that title alone).
Feeling like a modern explorer, my eyes beheld a sight where the trees are lit by the sun and seem to go on forever, with no man-made obstacles blocking the horizon. It's no stretch of the imagination to pretend that you’re sitting at the edge of the world, gazing down upon uncharted territory beneath you.
It has taken me some time to find that place again, but find it I do, and spend many days soaking in the sun like a lizard warming its spirit, with bare feet resting upon the sandy rock as I gaze over the cliff.
Sometimes eavesdropping (accidently) on the conversations of strangers, on those occasions they have the same idea as me.
They don’t seem to mind that I’m there, trying my best not to listen as the wind carries their words to my slightly uncomfortable ears and back to the valley below, the place that secrets go to be recycled, like carbon to trees.
And when they come to leave, they turn to me and say “thanks for putting up with our chatter” and I smile awkwardly, because I know what fills them with fire and we’re connected in a strange, accidentally-eavesdropping way now.
But at this place, where souls thaw out on warm rocks, anything goes.
And when it’s time to leave, I hope I can find my way again and I do, as though I’m tracing the back of my hand and leading a flock of sheep through the mountains of Lebanon.
My grandfather would be proud.