A Naked Coffee Break From Writing in the Cabin

Enjoying coffee in cooler weather – indoors.

After a week of relatively decent temperatures and three days of warmer weather, today’s overcast conditions has me felling content to spend time indoors. As usual, that means I am writing. An interesting project had been suggested by a writing buddy of mine – an anthology of short stories by three naturist writers. I was sold with the idea almost immediately. I have ideas for about three such stories.

The first story will be about a naturist getting a massage from a non-naturist masseuse. Hopefully it will paint a realistic picture of the interaction between the two in a scenario that doesn’t devolve into some sort of erotica as most non-naturists would expect. The second story will feature a woodland scene involving a Celtic god and goddess, as well as a supporting cast. The third story will serve as an introduction to my novel, It’s Complicated.  Needless to say, I am not rushing into these short stories as I am rather focused on my historical novel set in Northern France at the end of the eleventh century.

Today is a writing day as my son-in-law has left for work and my daughter finds herself busy with Sunday stuff and other projects she has put off for a little while. My wife is out walking with our daughter’s big, black dog. The likelihood of seeing animals in the wilderness that surrounds this northern cabin home will be none because of the dog, and that’s okay as the black bears are now out of hibernation. So, in one respect, this is a good thing that she has the dog along with her. But, it does mean she won’t get to see any deer or moose, or get somewhat close to birds.

Tomorrow we leave at an early hour to return to our home on the southern Canadian prairies. It will be a long day as our home is almost a thousand kilometres from our daughter’s home. With that said, I’ll leave you now so that I can return to writing.

Bare in the Canadian Northern Wilds

down a dirt trail in spring time

I made it to my daughter’s home in the north country where there is still snow on the ground, especially in the forest area that surrounds her log home that she shares with her husband and dog. It didn’t take me long to find a moment and a place that would allow me to enjoy a bit of time to be au naturel. Since it was sunny with temperatures into the double digits, it was an incredible pleasure to be clothing free. I tried getting photos of ducks swimming in the small river near this path but with no success. I did get photos of some moose in a field about fifteen minutes before her home. This is part of the wonder of Canada – space to be free.

Just a Naturist Note While Visiting

I have one more day of visiting my son and his young family before travelling on to visit the eldest of my three children in her home. This is an incredible way to spend time while waiting for the weather to become friendlier for a naturist. I did find a small window of opportunity with a bit of sunshine in spite of the cool weather. Naturally, any opportunity to be clothing free is treasured.

I have been busy playing with a grandson and a granddaughter for it will likely be at least six weeks before another such opportunity presents itself in early June. When they are otherwise occupied during the early part of the day, such as at this point in time – school and shopping – I turn to a bit of writing. The history novel has my attention at this point in time. I am finding the story interesting and look forward to how it will turn out. I will turn to more dedicated writing time once I return home at the beginning of May.

Dreaming of Naturism 24/7

Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park

I saw a tweet on Twitter earlier today that had someone who was proud to state that he had been living nude 24/7 for more than 200 days. That is an accomplishment to be sure. However, I have to ask, at what cost? And when I ask this question, I am talking about myself should I attempt to do the same.

Like most nudists and naturists, I prefer being without clothing. Clothes don’t cut it for me. If I lived in a perfect world, I would live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate where clothing would not be needed for weather purposes. Not only would I live in such a place, but all of my family and friends would be there with me. And that’s where the whole thing comes crashing down. I have adult children who are married and have children of their own. Each of these three adult children lives in a different location. They are living where their jobs take them. Unless they could find the same careers where I was able to live 24/7 while nude, getting together would be a rarer event.

Picnic naturist style

Would my children even come to visit me in such a naturist community? Since they are married their answer has to be framed with the needs, expectations, fears, and attitudes of their partners. They have married great people, but not people who are accepting enough of naturism to bring their children to visit their naked grandfather. However, they are very welcoming when I go to their homes to visit while wearing clothing. Since I don’t live in a naturist community, and since I live on the Canadian prairies, I am nude only when circumstance and conditions permit. So, my grandchildren do come to visit my home on the prairies. Of course, I don’t challenge the situation by being nude while they visit. It’s my choice. Of course, I could make the choice to relocate anyway rationalising that if they loved me, truly loved me, they would visit often and join me as naturists. Now that is fantasising. I need to keep my head in the real world of family and a larger society.

Costa Natura naturist community

Now to set the record straight, there is a naturist community in the province where I live where I could live year round. Of course, for eight months of the year, the only place you can be nude in spite of being surrounded by others who like to live nude, is within buildings. The community doesn’t have stores or other community-type services we take for granted in our textile communities.Other naturist communities exist as well in North America and Europe. But to be able to live in one with all the normal services and conveniences is going to cost money. And to be honest, most people living in such communities are retired people. Making a living pretty well demands that we leave the cocoon of the naturist community. This was the reality we noticed when staying in a naturist community in southern Spain, where we found out, climate still forced us to wear clothing from time to time.

 

There Are Negative Consequences For Naturists

And even this is taking a risk.

So why do I and many others, slip away from the centre, from the normal worldview, and risk family, friends, community, and even freedom? When one slips off the edges of what is commonly held as acceptable, one is at risk. There is little love for those who stray from the centre regardless of what moral truths are to be found outside of that centre. The further from the centre, the greater the risk.

Now before  I get too involved with talking about the outliers of society, the collective, I want to point out that if we look closely at the centre, there is no one standing there. So, why is there a centre if no one can be at the centre? Fear. The primal fear of being different from others has so many willing to adopt one fashion after another in spite of cost. If the shoe is uncomfortable, just wear it with pride knowing that you have the “right” shoes on unlike those who aren’t quite with the program of the centre. But don’t get comfortable for it’s going to change. The end result is a life lived in anxiety. “What if they find out that I’m different?” Media manipulates this anxiety to achieve control and power.

So, why do naturists and nudists shed their clothing when the normal human avoids nudity and actively attempts to prevent others from being clothing free? I wish that I could answer this in simple terms, but I can’t. The reasons are unique to each individual though there as some commonly held reasons. The truth is that we can’t actually explain the real reasons for we don’t consciously know what pushes us from within our personal centres, our unconscious self. Of course we can say things we believe from our consciousness – freedom, feeling, health, wellness, beauty, a sense of wholeness, etc. These are all truths, but it doesn’t really explain why we take risks.

Where there is a boundary, a restriction, there is not freedom. The boundaries are often for protection, but they are still boundaries. The boundaries may be of ideology, but no ideology – religious, political, or whatever – is anything but a response to other ideologies, to fear of other.

So why do I risk my relationship to others by standing out in the open without clothing? Compulsion? Yes. The sense of freedom? Yes. The feeling? Yes. But to be honest, I don’t really know why as it threatens so much. If I am too much out in the open, there will be negative consequences that I will suffer.

Naturists and Nudists as Deviants not Perverts

I have been reading a few sections out of a book called Tolerable Differences: Living With Deviance, by Robert Stebbins (1996). Of special interest in the book is the section on nudism and at the beginning when deviance is defined. Here is an important look at deviance:

Deviance from or non-conformity with the norms of the group with an interest in morality is one of humanity’s oldest concerns. Collective life is possible only when certain crucial rules of behaviour are observed by all or a large majority of the members of the community. These rules are an important part of the complicated, standardized solutions that evolve in response to the problems people encounter while living in proximity to one another.  They are nothing less than strategies for personal and social survival. Such solutions take years to develop and crystallize. They are seen by most community members, especially those who have the greatest power and interest in preserving the status quo, as indispensable to the quality of community life.” [p. 1]

This makes me step back and do some deep questioning about naturism, and about why I have embraced naturism as part of my healing process and perhaps even lifestyle. There is no question that naturism/nudism is about not conforming to the moral belief of the larger society.

Positive face of deviance.

Standing outside the crowd, doing something differently, being different – if I accept this definition of deviancy, then yes, I am a deviant. However, the word rankles. Somehow, the non-judgemental definition, one that is used in mathematics as a statement of separation from the median, the middle, the mean. As humans, we have found a new word to describe those who are furthest outside the mean – outliers. These people are heralded when they serve our needs, and

What does it say about those who engage in nudity, especially social nudity? Is there at its depths, something immoral about human nudity in terms of personal and social survival? Why has humanity moved away from its natural roots where nudity was normal? I don’t know the answers, nor if answers are to be found. And if there are good answers that would unquestionably support the inclusion of naturism within the collective norm, would society then accept those answers? In my opinion, there is too much power, authority and money invested in the status quo. If anything, power is invested in keeping the bulk of human society in a controllable state of unconsciousness. Real awareness, consciousness, would have too many people question the status quo and thus present a real threat to those invested in maintaining the status quo.

Being an authentic person means you stop being one of the crowd. It really doesn’t have anything to do with nudity. It has everything to do about being an individual who risks being herself or himself in the collective. Sadly, most naturists and nudists hide from the collective in secluded and often isolated locations. Only when safely behind their own doors with draperies closed and the doors locked, or in nudist camps do they dare allow themselves to set aside the protective camouflage.

A Naturist In Control of the World

Control – or should I say, the illusion of control – is something each of us holds onto as tightly as possible as naturists. Like most people, I have control issues. I want the world to unfold in a manner that suits my conscious [ego] wishes. If possible, I would control others, the weather, the economy, politics, relationships [mine and others] and the choices others make. If possible, I would set the laws of the world to allow nudism anywhere, anytime, for anyone. If I could set the laws of human nature, I would have every human psychologically wired so as to never harm [physically and/or psychologically] themselves or others. I would also do a better job with the weather so that there would never be severe weather disturbances, and that there was just enough sunshine and rain to meet the needs of plant and animal life. I would also do away with evil while I was at it. Life would be perfect with no unpleasant surprises to disturb the calm.

Thou shalt, thou shalt not …

I know, who am I to set all the rules. Not everyone has the same notion of what would make a perfect world with perfect people. The truth is, even I would balk at having to live in such a perfect world. With everything being perfect there would cease to be satisfaction with that perfection as there would be nothing left to contrast and remind us of that perfection. I would get bored and likely become my own worst enemy in retaining this personal state of perfection. If I had to be naked all the time, I would likely invent something to create contrast – perhaps invent clothing. If others had to be perfect I would find it impossible to choose one person as my significant other and soon find myself in meaninglessness relationships where it didn’t matter who I chose or who chose me for a partner. I would turn dark inside and in doing so, I know that suddenly I would  be seen as a significant  other in contrast with the rest of a bland world.

Thinking about it, it’s a good thing I live in an imperfect world which at the moment is overcast, as I get to appreciate those sunshine moments when I can once again revel in being in my bare skin being kissed by the sun.

Risking Authenticity as a Naturist

Stilling the monkey mind

It was hard trying to begin today’s post. I found it hard to sit still at the computer and get started. My mind kept racing all over the place. I was making plans for all sorts of activities over the next several months in my head without recording any of these ideas. The time out I gave to myself to sit quiet in meditation helped for a short while, but even that peace began to be drowned out by the constant chatter in my head. Finally, I was able to sit down and begin. My mind, my ego was rushing around doing its best to avoid this sitting down and return to the work of soul healing.

Now that I have my ego back under control, I can begin today’s post about respect and about values. Of course, as a naturist, I have learned that society, as a collective, has no respect for naturism, nudism, nude activism or just the simple enjoyment of occasional nude activity.  As a result, there is a growing underground collective of those who want to be naked, nude, au naturel, etc. It is understandable, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having the general population be respectful of a sizable group of citizens who pay their taxes, contribute to their society in various enterprises and work positions.

The cost of being different

Respect is a difficult term. For the general society, it really isn’t about respect at all, it is about obeying and conforming, or else. And to back up the “or else,” laws and religious edicts are continually put forth to enforce compliance. And where there are no laws, communities make up unwritten laws in order to ensure that differences are not tolerated. Why? Being different for many is viewed as a negative criticism of the group. In response to one’s being “not like the others,” a defensive response, the group reacts with demonizing, humiliating and shaming. As I say this, I want to make sure you understand that I am talking about groups, not individuals. In every group there are some that are more aware than others. And because they are more aware of themselves and others, there is more tolerance and respect. They have already learned that no human is either good or evil, but that every human is a complex blend of conscious and unconscious behaviours and attitudes.

Now, I realise that there are so many gray areas here. There are people who, on an individual level have reason to be “naked wary.” There are too many who have suffered sexual assaults, too many who have been humiliated about their bodies. I respect their position of being extremely discomforted by nudity. I have also seen how nudity has been abused by corporate industry through advertising all the way to hard-core pornography.  That has left even more people unable to separate personal nudity from the evils of a corporate world determined to make addicts of every one of us: addicts of sex, addicts of fear, addicts of whatever it is that they have to sell none of which is good for our heart and soul, and often our very bodies. So how do I show respect for these hurting individuals? Obviously, I don’t become a threat to their well-being by getting into their spaces and getting nude. Do I expect a response of respect back from them? Well, yes I do – but I don’t expect it or demand it.

Like almost all naturists, I just want to be left in peace, to not have to worry that if I get seen in some peaceful nature setting, or even in my own yard, naked, that I won’t have to deal with the threat of law, or be harassed and bullied. My getting naked is about my feeling good about who I am, it isn’t about trying my hardest to offend or traumatise anyone. My getting naked is about making peace with my body as part of my own journey of healing of soul.

Body Image and Fear of Being an Original

The old man in the mirror

I am getting older. The truth is, I am already old as far as my body tells me. The aches and pains of ageing are real. The physical appearances change as well with ageing. My black hair has long disappeared, my trim and fit body left on the same boat as my hair. It would be quite understandable to look in the mirror and then hate what was reflected there. But, I don’t hate the visible signs of my mortality.

Body acceptance

Perhaps the most courageous thing anyone can do is to confront the reality of themselves. In today’s world of mass media doing its best to sell us anything and everything, and in the process convincing us that we are not okay, we are not beautiful or handsome, we are not smart enough, we are not spiritual enough, we aren’t even lovable without the goods and services that they are more than willing to sell to us, it takes courage to look in the mirror at oneself without clothing.

I don’t think very many of us realise just how influential we are in the lives of the people around us. Beginning with our children, what do we teach them about being brave? We have long known that our children learn from what we do, not what we say. We teach them about being individuals, about standing up for what they believe in, as well as many other important values. Yet, what do we do to make our words become more than simply meaningless babble for our children?  How do we teach our daughters about body acceptance?

I know that we typically tell our daughters they are beautiful just the way God made them, even when by societal standards there are a few (or more) things about their body that is called into question. And almost in the same moment in time we deny our own beauty as we head to gyms, buy the latest diet book, invest in aesthetic plastic surgery, etc. Our children aren’t stupid. They learn that parents are supposed to say they are beautiful in their natural state, but the also learn that their parents don’t believe that humans are naturally beautiful. They see their parents hide their natural beauty as humans, and they get the message that they too need to hide their natural beauty and replace it with brand names, the latest styles of clothing and so on. Our children see what we do and learn the real message, the truth that they must hide their natural bodies, and even their natural person. We teach them to trust in clothing, in masks and “polite” lies. We teach them that it is unnatural and even immoral to be “natural.”

Why? Fear.  Yes, it does come down to fear. This fear is at an existential level, a spiritual level, and a societal level. It is about risking and daring the unknown, risking censure, ridicule, safety and perhaps even love. We are born trusting but soon learn to be afraid – afraid that mother and her milk will not be there. We learn to be afraid when we begin to deal with our human spirit as we get taught and told how humans are sinners and that sinners go to hell where we will burn in eternal darkness unless . . . And for each of us, that “unless” is tied into everything we eat, everything we think, everything we do and pointedly, it is tied to our naked bodies.

“Embarking on a spiritual journey is like getting into a very small boat and setting out on the ocean to search for unknown lands. . . .  but sooner or later we will also encounter fear. For all we know, when we get to the horizon, we are going to drop off the edge of the world.” [Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, p. 1]

So with that fear, a fear that goes down into our very souls, we hide and lie about who we are. At least we hope we can hide enough so that our life within our families and our communities and our churches can be less fearful. As we hide from the world behind clothing and roles and disguises, we hide from ourselves. We learn almost too late, if we learn at all, that each and every person out there is just as afraid as we are, even our church leaders and law makers. I share that fear with each of you; after all, like you, I am human.

Yes I am afraid and I am human, but I am tired of lying to myself and believing in the lies of a world that is just as insecure or even more insecure, as myself. This is part of the reasons, the rationale, for the existence of this blog site. I am finally daring to be me, imperfect but human.

Being Naked in a Non-Nude-Friendly World

Gymnophobia

The Greeks had created a word, Gymnosophy to name a group of individuals, in their world at that time – men, they saw as naked philosophers or naked wise men. Now, it doesn’t escape me that among the number of people who have embraced naturism, there are more than a few who would modern-day versions of naked philosophers. Unlike the ancient Greek civilisation, today’s naked philosophers aren’t only men. However, before I get carried away with the topic of gymnosophy, I simply want to set the foundation for the use of the word, gymnophobia – “An abnormal and persistent fear of nudity. Sufferers of this phobia experience undue anxiety even though they realize their fear is irrational. They may worry about seeing others naked or being seen naked, or both.” Gymnophobia is alive and well, and apparently thriving in the modern world.

Life is confusing and complicated for anyone who begins to think too much and thus find themselves out of the mainstream of society, the collective. It would be much simpler to simply reflect the social world in which a person finds themselves, through action and uncritical acceptance. If everyone is eating at Macdonald’s on Saturday afternoon, then it is right to eat at Macdonald’s on Saturday afternoon. If everyone is wearing blue jeans, it is right and proper to wear blue jeans – wearing black jeans is letting the inner rebel show and thus makes a person just a bit less trusted. Conformity is in.

A walk along a beach will show you that most young men are wearing board shorts for swim wear. As a result, younger males entering into adolescence decide that they “have to” have this type of swim wear. There is no chance that they would risk being laughed at for wearing swim trunks, speedos, or heaven forbid, nothing at all. As a result, most people are making decisions based on what they perceive will be acceptable to the collective. The last thing they will do is to base decisions on what they personally would prefer.

With the “World Naked Bike Ride” making its appearance in cities all over the world, the number of young people getting naked and riding tells us that if the culture permits and accepts nudity, there would be more nudity in daily life, by choice, by individual choice. As more enjoy body freedom, others watching from the sideline will be encouraged to experience being naked, even if only for a few moments in the privacy of their bedroom or bathroom.

The reality is that in spite of the WNBR, society is not nude friendly. Being nude, even at home, requires a leap of courage or a breakdown. Being nude in a non-nude-friendly world, a gymnophobic world, sets one on the edges, outliers of the main social fabric. And, this is not a bad thing. Being an outlier frees a person from being nothing more than a consumer and a mirror. One finally has a rare opportunity to discover the treasure of simply being themselves.

To do the work, the psychological and spiritual work, of becoming more conscious of self and others always takes one on a journey that is difficult, a heroic journey. One can think of any number of stories in which an individual must suffer in order to win the prize of going home, or a golden fleece, or winning a coveted championship. All of these journeys take a person out of the safety of the collective.