To Be Authentic as a Naturist is to Suffer

“an expression of the suffering of soul” – James Hollis

No, I am not suffering as I hang out the wash this morning. But, the image of being hung out to dry, of exposing one’s dirty laundry is part of today’s post which continues looking at Chapter Four in James Hollis’ book, Living an Examined Life.

“If you do what is right for you, it is right for you; if you do what is wrong for you, it is wrong for you. But it is not so simple, is it?”

Now, washing clothing and then hanging it out to dry while nude is something that is very right for me, at least that is what I tell myself. But of course, if I was reported for an offensive display of nudity by one of my neighbours, it probably wouldn’t feel so “right” on second thought. Humour aside, Hollis isn’t talking about something such as the state of dress one chooses while hanging out clothing. There is something else that is being questioned.

“How do we know what is right for us? Well, the body knows, our deepest feelings know, and our psyche knows, and each expresses its opinion, even as we learned early in life to evade the continuous messages from our own depths. So, the recovery effort must typically begin with the experience of inner discord, outer conflict, and sometimes heartache and loss.”

Perhaps I wasn’t too far off the mark with my comments about hanging out the laundry while nude. While I performed this task this morning, my body and my inner feelings seemed to resonate. My ego, however, kept trying to tell me to cover up in case someone should see me. Ego lost out. Will there be a cost to me in the near, or not so near future because of it?

“Living our personal authority will not spare us from conflict, from suffering, from marginalization, or even martyrdom.”

Therein lies the challenge. Do we risk everything in the attempt to recover personal authority? What is my wife should say, “I’ve had it with your public nudity!” and demand an end to our relationship? What if my children-in-law should ask me to stay away from my grandchildren? What if my community should say, “Arrest him, the pervert.”? There is no question that having naturism as part of my “right for me” self will likely marginalise me more as time goes by and more people are confronted by my choices. It is the reality of the modern world. So, it becomes a choice. Do we have the courage to stick to what is authentic about ourselves, or do we abandon the “self” in an attempt to appease the collective shadow?

7 thoughts on “To Be Authentic as a Naturist is to Suffer

  1. Pingback: To Be Authentic as a Naturist is to Suffer | A Canadian Naturist | simplenaturist

  2. In respect to your last question: “So, it becomes a choice. Do we have the courage to stick to what is authentic about ourselves, or do we abandon the “self” in an attempt to appease the collective shadow? I think this question is too polemic. When the choice involves other people and other roles one plays in the complex web of relationships we all have, what is our authentic self in those situations?. I think the authenticity involves more than what we want for ourselves, it involves honouring what obligations we have undertaken in these various roles in relationships

    • John, my statement is in line with the concept of individuation, a Jungian psychology concept. No one says it isn’t complexed. However if the self is set aside for other then essentially one doesn’t become one’s authentic self, but more of a “I can please everyone important to me” ego-self. Others often give us a very good excuse to avoid dealing with the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of self.

    • Hi Carl. I am glad that you are getting something out of them. I will continue to write more of these type of posts.

  3. I had the same thoughts that John wrote about. If we were isolated, our choices would affect no one other than ourselves, but that’s most often not the case. Since our choices affect others, we must then make those choices with others in mind.

    Nothing would please me more than to be able to live my life naked in full view of others – mowe the lawn, take out the garbage, or merely take a stroll in the neighborhood. That would be my true, liberated self. But since it would offend the sensibilities of others, and likely result in my being arrested, I restrain my “self” and govern myself accordingly, which I don’t see as abandoning my authentic self. I seek appropriate opportunities for the “self” to be released freely without negatively affecting others. I might even create some of those opportunities as opposed to waiting for them to randomly occur.

    One could argue that his/her “self” involves some sort of harmful or self-destructive behavior. Is it possible that the authentic self can be intelligently adjusted? Or are we stuck with whatever it is and the responsbility of governing “self” with conscious choices? Isn’t that what separates us from animals that live solely by instinct?

    • ” Is it possible that the authentic self can be intelligently adjusted? Or are we stuck with whatever it is and the responsibility of governing “self” with conscious choices? Isn’t that what separates us from animals that live solely by instinct?”

      Well, the problem is the notion of our intelligence/ego being wise enough. The existence of the personal unconscious, the contents of which the ego has close to zero knowledge pushes back with “heat” when the ego tries to dictate for the whole self.

      Thanks, Karl, for your joining in the conversation. There is more to say, much, much more.

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