Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: November 2011

Getting By With a Little Help

Cliffside cave meditation

It is hard, harder than I thought, coping with my mother’s death. I am left wondering why as we weren’t very close to each other. Because of a dysfunctional family history, I was more than glad to live at a significant distance from her with visits usually limited in time every second year. There was no respect for her, other than that she was grandmother to our three children. There wasn’t any way for me to bridge that distance, especially since she always denied that there were problems in our home when I was young.

Perhaps it is because I missed out on being able to get resolution to my questions and closure. Today, my wife took this photo of me in a place that I had chosen for meditation just off the beach. I am amazed at how nurturing and supportive she has been for me, especially as I challenge everything she knows with this strange behaviour of my nudity.

Mother Ain’t Dead

Grieving by the sea

We are in the Philippines near Cebu at a place called White Sands Resort. I managed to get the university to allow us to teach enough extra classes so that we could have a brief holiday for some snorkelling. Our students didn’t mind cramming as that would mean more free time for them while we were gone. There is a trust thing that exists based on our time spent at this university.

Yesterday, I got the news that my mother had died. Today is our fourth day in the Philippines, four blissful days of snorkelling, hiking, and discovering the rural villages near the beach area. With the news, not unexpected, of her death, I found myself crying. Both my wife and I understood this to be a healthy sign of grieving. Today, I went out on my own to find a place on one of the tiny beaches surrounded by rocky outcroppings for meditation. I didn’t think about the possibility that anyone would wander by. I just didn’t care. My mother just died.

I used to play a lot of music in my youth, giving my last concert in 1979. When my wife’s mother died, I taught some of my wife’s brothers the song “Mother Ain’t Dead,” a song by Long John Baldry, and we played it at the memorial service. I thought of this song again and wondered if this applied to my mother. Was she now waiting for Jesus to come?

Mother ain’t dead, she’s only a sleeping, patiently waiting for Jesus to come. She got so sick, last year in the winter, now she’s patiently waiting for Jesus to come.”

Twins: In a Private Place

Skyclad
Ego

The work in digging into one’s deeper self in order to better understand oneself is one that is not to be taken lightly. For most, it is likely a task that would not feel right and be quickly abandoned.  Yet sometimes, the work is uplifting and animates the spirit nd the body. Though these images were taken indoors, today “I,” the ego or conscious self, found a balcony surrounded by palm and other tropical trees in the Philippines for a meditative moment. The warm, moist air washed over me as I meditated and the muffled sounds of human life and conversations became part of the sounds of the breeze.  As always, I meditated skyclad.  And as always, I positioned myself so as to not be visible to passing eyes.  Meditation is private and only shared with others when those others are also meditating.

There is a risk in taking off the clothes, going skyclad in a culture where nudity is more about evil (sex) than goodness. Taking off ones psychic clothing and becoming transparent is also not received well for most. Like a physical nakedness, a spiritual and psychic nakedness needs to be contained in safety as if being placed on an altar in a temple, a holy place of sacred safety.

Ego: God, it’s hot out here; it must be 34 C not counting the humidity.

Sky Clad: Don’t be such as stuffed shirt. Take of some of those clothes and feel the breeze on your skin.

Ego: Are you crazy? Someone might see me, and then I’d be in deep shit.

Sky Clad: Hmmm? I said take off some clothes, not parade around as if you were in a Pride Parade. Other people don’t have anything to do with letting a bit of air cool you off. With all those layers, air can’t even tell that you are there!

Ego: Well, I guess I could – maybe I can find a secluded enough place around here somewhere.

Sky Clad: No problem, just place a towel over the arms of your chair and it will provide more than enough privacy, protect others from seeing you exposed. Everyone will assume you are protecting your chair from your wet bathing suit, never guessing that you are naked behind the wall of white that the towel creates for you.

Ego: Okay . . . hey, this isn’t so bad, it actually feels cool out. But still . . .

Sky Clad: Enough, you know it isn’t about your naked skin at all. It is about a shame that you have for your own skin.

Ego: A shame that I have? Not in the least . . . I could get arrested for this! You know there are laws against nudity. I could go to jail, get tossed out of the country, lose my passport . . .

Sky Clad: Do you really think so? I see you sitting up on a balcony in a courtyard area where few people are to be found; and you are hidden behind that towel. Someone would really have to go out of their way to see you. Do you think anyone even cares what you are wearing or what you are doing when you aren’t in their face? Besides, all that is just a smoke screen to avoid talking about something real, something deep. What was it about the word shame that made you take off on a tangent?

Ego: I never said I was ashamed of my body!

Sky Clad: Oh? Then what are you ashamed of that makes you take it out on your body?

Ego: Wha . .  . ?

Sky Clad: Think about it. I’ll come back later when you are ready to deal with it. For now, just catch a few breezes and begin to trust that you are safe in this quiet and protected space on your balcony.

Twins: Naked Beneath One’s Persona

Skyclad
ego

Taking time out each day to prepare my lessons, to teach classes and to evaluate what I have done and where I have been in relation to my university students often leaves me drained. I have been doing this for a long time, and find myself still doing this six years after I have retired. I get tired but I don’t seem to know how to let go of my role as educator, teaching about the human psyche, personality and relationships.

Do many years as teacher, confidant, counsellor, coach, sage and father figure make me wonder who I am under all of these roles.  Of course a life at home, a family life only adds more and more roles into the mix. Once upon a time I added in athlete, musician and poet into the mix. Today? I don’t know who the hell I am anymore.

Sky Clad: Hmmm – who are you beneath the roles, beneath the personae that have defined you in schools, in the family and in the community? So tell me, who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Ego: A tired and graying man. I don’t really recognize the face as it seems to be much too old for my face.

Sky Clad: Well, I hate to break the bad news to you, but that face is your real face. So is the gray hair that is thinning out quite a bit in case you haven’t noticed.

Ego: Thanks, that was encouraging.

Sky Clad: Actually, that is good news.

Ego: What the hell do you mean by that?

Sky Clad: Think about it, you don’t have to wonder about who the real you is, what you see is what you get. There is no thirty year old body trapped within your body. Face it, you have a body to match your face, a body and face to match your years. No lies, no masks – just you.  Of course you can let your beard grow again, but that really won’t make much of a difference, just a hairier version of what you see now.

Ego: That still begs the question of who I am beneath all the different roles I play. I’ve been reading up on some Jungian stuff and what is says about persona and the authentic person and individuation and projections and . . . well, at least some of it.

Sky Clad: I hate to break it to you, but some of that Jungian stuff you’ve been reading is just a bunch of New Age claptrap. Listen up a bit and I’ll see if I can shed a little light on the subject. First, if you take off your clothing, does it change who you are?

Ego: Other than being naked and probably left cold and feeling foolish, not really. I get naked from time to time you know, it’s not as if I’m a Victorian prude or something.

Sky Clad: My point, Putting the clothing back on doesn’t change who you are either. Clothed or skyclad, you are still you.

Ego: So far I follow what you are saying. So what exactly are you trying to say?

Sky Clad: Just this, your personae, the roles you play are all a part of who you are, they aren’t simply masks and mirrors hiding the real you. Of course you are more that these limited number of roles, you are all the other roles that you have fantasized about, thought about in your head.

Ego: You have to be kidding, you can’t be serious!

Sky Clad: Just think about it – why and how could I bullshit you. All I can do is tell you the naked truth.  Ha ha, that was a good one – I’m naked telling the naked truth – a pun indeed.

Ego: Explain.

Sky Clad: What? The pun?

Ego: Geesh! No, this stuff about me being my personae AND my fantasies.

Sky Clad: Oh that. Well, as I was saying, you are quite a complex person, and a complexed person I might add, but that is a different topic for a different visit. I think you understand about the nature of personality how one is caught between the polarities of extraversion and introversion. Well, take that idea further. For example, you teach and are a teacher, but at the same time you are working behind the scenes as a learner, as a student.

Ego: So what has that to do with my fantasies?

Sky Clad: Just be patient. In your lived life you have been faithful to your wife – no sleeping around, no adultery. I guess you could say that you are an exemplary model of fidelity. Yet, you know that beneath your skin, you aren’t so exemplary at all. Even today you looked at some of the young women in your classes with lust, could almost visualize them without their clothing and began wondering what it would be like.

Ego: Still, I kept my dick in my pants and didn’t cheat on my wife.

Sky Clad: Because of a strong ego, you managed that. The point is, there is a part of you that is willing and ready to fuck just about any woman who smiles at you, and even some that don’t even know you exist. The adulterer is there and you know it. 

Ego: Okay, I’ll admit to the truth of what you are saying. But everything, all of my fantasies?

Sky Clad: Yes, all of them. They are all telling you something about who you are. Your lived roles in the outside world and your repressed dreams and fantasies, you are all of these. There is no you that exists that doesn’t include them, all of them. That’s the problem with a lot of the quacks who claim to be therapists and analysts; they claim to be ready to help you find the real you, a you stripped of your personae.

Ego: Hmmm.  I gotta think about this.

Sky Clad:  Take your time; I’ll be back when you’re ready for more.

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