Remona Aly
Wednesday 13 May 2015 BBC Radio 2


“Journeys” Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2 Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show



The first thing that came to my mind was the 80s film, ‘Inner Space’, when Dennis Quaid goes microscopic and ends up inside the body of the hapless Martin Short. We’re taken on a journey around his vital organs and through his bloodstream; and even though this sounds like a cliché (I do love clichés!) it made me think how there really is a whole universe inside us of uncharted territory.

Earlier this year, I went on a journey that I’d never been on before, which brought together the inner and the outer worlds in a way I found pretty mind blowing. I journeyed to where one of the largest human gatherings in the world takes place – which is in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It’s home to the Kaba which Muslims believe was the first house built to worship God.

Wherever I looked, people were praying in any corner they could find. Even if you go at 1am, 4am, it makes no difference – it’s a 24 hour worship rave up. Thousands of pilgrims were circling the Kaba in a Muslim mosh pit, and I circled it along with them, my bare feet connected to the ground, but my mind thinking about the above and beyond – about outer space. While I orbited the Kaba, I thought of the moon orbiting the earth, the earth orbiting the sun, the sun orbiting the centre of the Milky Way. I felt high on spiritual synergy and I turned to my brother thinking he felt the same cosmic vibe but he simply said, ‘So, what shall we have for dinner?’

Banishing thoughts of halal burger and chips, I reflected on how I may be one tiny spec but I was also part of something infinitely greater. I recalled my physics teacher telling us we were made of stardust – possibly the only thing I remember from his lessons, but there’s something in it – I did feel a connection to the heavens as if they were part of me and I was part of them, and we were all connected, moving in the same direction. 

A friend of mine recently told me she felt like she was going backwards, she lost her job and was back home living with her parents. But we agreed it was all part of the journey. I used to think of life being linear, about going from one milestone to the next. But it makes more sense that life is a circle – we go to the different parts of the parameter but we ultimately return back to the core, to the centre.

‘The longest journey is the journey inwards’ – said a Swedish diplomat whose name I can’t pronounce. He probably wasn’t thinking of Martin Short or my pilgrimage when he said it, but that journey for me was a journey to the centre of myself and beyond. My inner and outer space were united as I orbited the Kaba. Yeah, I was going round in circles, and even though I often depend on Satnav to get me to my destinations, walking around that cube shaped building was the only time I didn’t lose my sense of direction.