The healing and the wound

Emile Cronjé
3 min readJan 10, 2022



Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief.
The light spraying through the lace of the fern is as delicate as the fibers of memory forming their web around the knot in my throat.
The breeze makes the birds move from branch to branch as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh of the next stranger.
In the very center, under it all, what we have that no one can take away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.
~ Mark Nepo

I’m doing my best to communicate what is happening inside of me in an attempt to connect with what is happening inside of you. Perhaps this is what I have always done. What we are always doing. It’s like taking a walk together and in rapt wonder pointing at every luminous thing, asking: do you see that? Do you? Do you feel that? Do you? Or is it only me and do I exist inside of this mind, perceiving, but not participating?

Sometimes I read old journal entries — I’ve been keeping a diary with some consistency since I was very young — and when I am confronted with child-me saying I feel like a spectator in my life, or behaving in ways that are contradictory to what I really wished to express, I am brought to a standstill.

Children do their best to interpret their world and act in the ways that they understand to be acceptable. Children know that to be rejected is to die. And so they start pretending — or rebelling.

It is only when we become older and the thinking mind manages to drown out the feeling body that we start believing lies like ‘I can be self-sustaining’ or ‘I can solve all of life’s riddles inside of me’ or ‘I don’t need to show my true self to other people, I can spend my life hiding’. It is because we deeply believe we are only worth loving once we have lived up to everyone else’s expectations. Perhaps then someone else will give us some time out of their very busy schedules.

We try our best.

I could go on an empowering-sounding tangent. I could say things like: live for yourself. Figure out what are your own expectations. Let go of old stories you’ve been told.

And I would be oversimplifying. I would be trying to rush past the hard part. The part where I acknowledge and grieve the things I have not been able to learn. The things I have not been able to become because I was busy learning how to live a lie.

This is not damage that can be undone in a day or with a single decision. These are patterns of behaviour I have learned to survive and will be my body’s first response until I very purposefully change it. Through trial and error. Through failing. Through awkward moments. Through confusion. Through forgetting and remembering that things can be different.

But most of all through being willing to sit with a hole of sadness inside of me — one where a deep knowing is supposed to be. The knowing that I am just a human body with memory, and I deserve closeness. But I don’t feel that. I don’t have that conviction that I can be loved and accepted. When I poke around on the inside, I just find doubt. I find a million reasons why I’m not good enough yet. How does one move past not feeling worthy of your own attention?

You cry. You grieve. You let yourself feel. You risk to show yourself to others again. You stay. And somehow, through feeling, the emotion starts to shift.

Sometimes the healing hurts more than the wound.

Until, on a bright sunny morning, without warning, it doesn’t.



Emile Cronjé

Art. Agency. Activism. South Africa