Spanish is a beautiful language, its words are often steeped in metaphysical magic, like this one, Querencia.
I first encountered querencia in Hemingway’s Death In The Afternoon, a book I admit I forced myself to read. I learned more about the subtleties of querencia one morning at the Museo Taurino in Sevilla, a strange place to go if you’re against bullfighting as I am, although, knowledge will always be power.
The word that would best describe querencia, would be haunted. But don’t let that fool you. It’s also a place that you go when you are afraid, anxious, angry, when you need to cool your heels. That space might manifest itself in a physical locality, but it’s a metaphysical meaning. It’s mental.
A Google search for the word’s meaning will find this: a place from which one’s strength is drawn, where one feels at home, the place where you are your most authentic self. That’s so neat and spiritual in the tumblr sense of the word, but it’s not exactly the whole truth about querencia, at least, not in Spanish.
In the bullring, a bull has his querencia. This is one place in the ring where he returns to during the fight, time and time again; it’s a place where he develops his fight in his brain, it’s the place where he remembers and memorizes every single detail about the matador, it’s a place where he regroups and rebuilds his strength and his plan of attack. People have often said that this is the place in the ring where the bull feels most safe, but in truth, it is the place where he becomes more dangerous.
Querencia, which comes from the verb querer (meaning to love, to desire, to want) is also action, a call to love and to love well.
All these meanings can only, truly, be felt in the heart. They are not physical, they summon up your inner strength and power, your power to overcome, to win the fight, and to love, whatever it is, as much as you can. These feelings and thoughts haunt us, night and day. Time and again we return to them, turning over our wants and desires in our minds, working through our fears and hurts, working through our inconsistencies and our self doubts, wanting to come out the other side, like the bull, ready to attack, a powerhouse of inner strength and ability.
Writing is an act of love. It is also an act that can throw you head first into a place where you feel lost, at sea, afraid. You want, you desire, you love, so you come back to your querencia and begin the fight all over again. Querencia is the fight against the no, the maybe, the you’re not good enough. Once you become a writer, you are forever haunted by both fear and love of what you do.
Your querencia is your power. Use it.