Words by Emily Fuller
Toes pressed into the granular earth, I wandered aimlessly along a tumultuous shoreline that reared its ferocity in my face as if to make the accusation I had been at the ready for. At each sight of the glint of something foreign and toxic settled in the loose sand, my fingertips grazed and curled around it as I bent down to collect what did not belong here to Mother Earth. The trash, long neglected by those basking in the earlier hours of sun, salt and sand. It was a near-perfect afternoon – cloudless, the concluding rays of sun thawing out my hands.
Something sprouted in the base of my gut – was it guilt? Oh indeed, there was guilt. Guilt for the carelessness in respecting our decrepit planet that lies threadbare for us to utilise as we please. My mind willed to plead for mercy as I made my reticent apologies known – promising to do better, to be better in this climate of change and environmental suffering.
This sensation of guilt was not unlike the sentiments floating around me everywhere I traversed; they niggled at me through my thoughts, my speech and my actions. They penetrated and circumvented my imagination in which I was suddenly felt to be accountable for everything I felt I had not put all of my effort in combatting and bettering in my life – with relationships primarily. I struggled to muster my tenacity to thunder through these feelings of doubt to hold up and wave my flag of truth with confidence – declaring, Hey! I am fighting and working for this with my heart and soul! Instead, my imagination was corrupted, scrutinised of all the things I had not tried hard enough to restore in the world around me. My imagination, the very one that is cultivated for love and friendship and intrinsic connection, had rather employed itself as a crude mode of demoralisation as all I heard was give more, and more, and even more.
We are all afflicted by this corruption, we’re all violated by it and by the what ifs plaguing our perceptions of reality. And in this way, extraordinary moments of human connection are fraught with suspicion and all that comes with it: fear, anger, paralysis, disappointment and despair. In the depths of this spiral, we all think the worst of each other and ourselves, and in turn become our worst selves in self-criticising.
But what if we acknowledged those fears, despite how shameful and daunting they threaten themselves to be? Better yet, what if we proceeded to do so with offering a hand of mercy to ourselves? During my stroll along the sand, I had no qualms in seeking forgiveness from the earth in which we rise from, but why do I neglect to extend that exact compassion and forgiveness to myself in my day-to-day functioning? We constantly look towards others as holding the power to grant us mercy in which we grovel for through frantic sheds of tears and pleas, however we fail to recognise the immense power we seize within ourselves to both give and receive our own mercy.
I suppose the reason I am writing this is to reveal my own fears and sorrows and self-incrimination in how I conduct myself through my life’s relationships and challenges. Ironically, to have mercy on myself. When we exert mercy, deeply transformative change can happen. Our fantasies and hopes and vulnerabilities that fill our bodies might become visible. Our fears and trepidations might become visible. Our hardships and trauma might become visible. Without this visibility, we float around mindlessly like empty phantoms who find it hard to love one another, to understand one another, and to nurture one another. With mercy, I can see within myself, and I can see within you – all of the fullness and humanity there is to see in granting ourselves those extraordinary connections between one another.
Art by Lucina Aranha – @luspider