-I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to accept and love yourself as you are.
Lily leaned back against the craggy outcrop, ignoring the discomfort, contemplating the glories and vagaries of life. Born in one year she would have been a little strumpet, maybe, doing it in secret in barns and hedgerows with farmhands and their masters. Born in another, perhaps a courtesan of unimaginable skill and insatiability, working not just for the money but for the sheer unadulterated pleasure of it.
-does anybody really ever love themselves completely? I see so many books and manuals on self-acceptance and all that crap and all i really want to know is are there actually people like that? Who love themselves and think they are fabulous all the time? Perhaps i’m missing the point. Perhaps it’s not so much about loving yourself all the time as it is about loving yourself enough of the time that everybody thinks you love yourself all of the time. Yes, i know. I love sentences like that. It makes me feel smart when i figure them out. What can i say? I’m easy to please.
Lily felt misunderstood. And lonely. And bleak and sad, like a scene out of a brontë novel. You know, the ones where the grey skies match the character’s mood. Lily felt like that, all grey and damp. Truth be told, Lily had always identified with windswept moors and heath, rather than forests of any kind. Something in wide open spaces called, spoke to her, in language she could not express or explain. She felt small and wide open, out there on the windy moor. In it’s vastness she felt herself made clear, like a mountaintop pool; clear and therefore known.
She thought about trying to explain why beaches made her feel restless and crowded. Even private beaches, where it sometimes seemed as if she was the only person left in the world. Even those beaches made her feel crowded. The world just never seemed to be far enough way. Looking out over the water, with nothing but sky on the horizon, you could believe that you were seen, and known. But let your vision waver and there’re glimpses of sand, breaking up the blue. You lose concentration -and it’s over. You’re not mountaintopspring-clear on the beach. Turn around, and the world is right there.
Houses, buildings, trees, people. Turn back -ocean and sand. And surf coming in, trying to reach you, grabbing at your being with cold wet fingers. So, feeling uneasy and umsettled, out of sorts, you turn back again, and walk away from the beach and into the world. This never happens on the moor – this rude interruption of your communion with Being.
If you go far enough into the moor, you can find wide deep spaces, so empty, so open, so wide, that the phrase ‘nobody around for miles’ has real meaning.
There, in that wide-open solitude, you ebb and flow with Being. Known. Seen. Alive.
-all human beings are inherently flawed. It’s human nature. Everybody has a dark mark, no matter how well-disguised. A damn’d spot, if you will, that no amount of scrubbing will dislodge. To love yourself, really love yourself, requires knowing that spot and knowing it well. You can’t love what you don’t know, so you have to know yourself, spots and all. Is that possible? To hear some people talk you would think so. Always talking about what they wont take and what they like – really? You wont take that kind of behaviour from anyone? And yet your daughter backchats and regularly calls you a failure and you laugh it off? Please, tell me about what you wont stand for.
And that’s how it is, folks. People don’t know who they are. It’s not possible to know the whole truth about yourself and love yourself. It just isn’t. Because we all have that damn’d spot, that deep dark stain that we hope nobody else will ever see. And we hate it and try to hide from it, and as loudly as we proclaim how fabulous we are, deep inside there’s a small voice that whispers: you would be fabulous, if only you didn’t have that dark stain hidden away deep in the layers of whiteness and brightness that make up what you show the world.
Love yourself? Sure, most of yourself. Except that tiny-but not so tiny- part. So, nobody can truly love themselves because nobody can truly see themselves. And because we’re all hiding our spots from others, it means they can’t truly love us; they don’t truly know us.
But Lily knew herself. And sitting against a rocky outcrop on that barren moor, she knew that what she had just written was epiphanic. Something that years from now, when she would be old but still beautiful and enough unto herself,years from now these words would be read and people would ask her “ms lily, what inspired you – what gave you this insight into the human psyche, this knowing of the darkness of humanity’s soul?” When they asked her that, years from now when they read the words now lying in unassuming lines of text on ruled paper in her hand, she would think of the abyss that had seen into her as she stared into it. She would smile that secret smile that all those who know smile – the one that goes with a tap on the nose in low-budget films but stands alone the more money you have – that smile that says i know something you don’t know. And then she would answer and tell them: i know because i was known and seen: as i looked into that Being, as i flowed with it and bled into and out of it, i was known, i was seen, and i knew.
She dusted herself off, stretching into the watery sunlight and kneading her back where the black rock had pressed into her. She kept the 72page A4 feint&margin in her left hand as she did so, cursorily flicking through the pages when she felt limber again. The words tumbled past her eyes and she smiled to herself as she caught brief snatches of phrases and saw the bold slashes of ink on the cheap paper. She knew these words would be her gift to the world and it felt right and true. With a final stretch, notebook still in hand, she groaned softly, closed and opened her eyes, and began to walk. Back the way she had come, back towards the world.