More often than not, when I begin to reflect on something I have read from my Buddhist studies, I do so from a deeply personal point of view. Yet, to be truly transparent and authentic, I must allow my self to be exposed here rather than remain hidden behind the words I write here.
So why is this important? My wife is always asking me why I find it necessary to tell the whole world I’m a nudist rather than keep it private. I guess the best answer that I can give, is the answer I give her, that in keeping it all private, there is an oppressive sense that I am hiding in a closet in order to stay safe, something that I physically had to do as a young child. I hid in boxes, closets and elsewhere hoping to be safe. In the past as I got older, though still a youth, I learned to hide within myself, build barriers so that I would not be seen and thus not hurt, as much. As an adult, the barriers were thick, so thick that I lost track of what had been hidden in efforts to protect my self along with all the garbage, the history and the shame. I was a successful, very successful teacher, coach and therapist. Even though I am an introvert, I was able to be active enough in the community to be respected. It all worked until the barriers began crumbling.
I am somewhat of a slow learner when it comes to dealing with change. I spent years trying to patch up the cracks with no success. When it finally became evident that I couldn’t stop the collapse of the dam holding back all that I had denied about myself, denied to myself, to my wife, to my family and to the world, I ran – literally. And when running everyday through blizzards and all sorts of weather failed to give me the release, failed to slow down the flood of contents spilling out into my life, I began to run in a different way. I found myself becoming a principal in a new school every year until the last school where it seemed there was no where else left to run, a school in which I was the principal for three years before retiring. Still, the running continued as I hurried from country to country with camera in hand, hoping that the distractions would be enough.
In spite of the running, in spite of a return to meditation and becoming a Buddhist, in spite of a return to naturalism and of taking the opportunity to relax in retirement, I found that I continued to deny myself. I continue to look to others for permission – no permission, then I would attempt to bury the need and the desire and hope it stayed buried so that I could be accepted as a somewhat normal person. Of course, there is no such thing as a normal person, but there is a range of normality within which I still don’t feel I fit in and belong.
That leaves me with one final option – to hell with it all and just be my self, warts and all. Good answer? Who knows, it is my answer.