When Things Fall Apart
So much anger, fear and pain is doing a number on all of us, regardless of which side of anger and fear we find ourselves at any given time. It doesn’t matter which side of an idea or conflict we find ourselves. All we know is what we feel, that we are under siege and that the world is falling apart, going to hell in a hand basket. There is no doubt that when it comes to the world of naturism and nudity, there almost feels to be an accentuated degree of believing that the world is falling apart.
Naturists have worked hard as a collective in North America, over the last seventy-some years to carve out a semblance of naturist community with naturist spaces. It was a long process that did result in having spaces and places to claim for the naturist world and cause. Those opposed to the idea of nudity because of religious beliefs, fear of paedophiles, personal experiences of sexual abuse, or simply out of personal shame for their own bodies are tortured by the same sense of loss of control and sanity in the world surrounding them. For both sides of the naturist equation, the world is falling apart, and the people and groups on the other side of the equation is the enemy.
“All over the world, everybody always strikes out a the enemy, and the pain escalates.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, p. 11)
These words by Pema Chödrön aptly express what is happening all around us, and even within us. The world is in pain, our neighbours are in pain, our children are in pain; and when we dare to closely enough and are honest, we are in pain. In our pain, we look outside of ourselves for someone to blame. It’s a normal response.
We blame those who carried the guns that shot the children. We blame organisations that lobby for a gun in every home, as well as those who lobby to have all the guns removed. We blame broken families and far away enemies. We blame our caretakers for failing us. We blame those who are actively pursuing the removal of rights to be nude, to swim in the nude. We blame those who want to force nudity down our throats. We blame others, nameless others for the most part.
Nude is lewd – be modest because the Bible tells says so.
But we rarely look within ourselves to see that we, too, are part of the problem. That darkness that terrorises us from somewhere out there is the same darkness that we deny within ourselves. The darkness seen in our societies mirror our own darkness. We look for scapegoats, and we hide behind our own guns, our churches, our medications, our addictions. But at some point it all falls apart and we come face to face with ourselves.
Evil does happen out there; but we have the echoes and the roots of that same evil within each and every one of us. We are left hurt, fearful, sad, angry, and often paralysed. So what can we do? We can approach all of this following Chödrön’s suggestion:
“Each day, we’re given many opportunities to open up or shut down. The most precious opportunity presents itself when we come to the place where we think we can’t handle whatever is happening. It’s too much. It’s gone too far. We feel too bad about ourselves. . . . Meditation is an invitation to notice when we reach our limit and to not get carried away by hope and fear.” (Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart, pp. 12-13)
Yes, meditation is a valid response. But, it is not our only response. We do live in communities and we have a responsibility to act in the best interests of our communities. But how do we act? Do we act blindly with revenge and blaming and fear and anger? Or, do we first look for an inner balance and respond in ways that keep us somewhere in the middle, a way that respects the heart and the head for ourselves and the others whom we are so quick to blame for the problems that tell us our world is falling apart? I can’t tell you the answer, you have to sit still long enough to know your answer, to know the questions that need to be asked. Yes, sit still.