It’s another cloudy day though we did have a short break with sunshine. Those bits and pieces of light help keep my mood and spirits up. I have been reading on body image in quite a few places in social media, articles which are a backlash against being told how people should look. Yet at the same time as there is protest, more people are invested in the models of perfection that are being promoted.
Diet books are best sellers, fitness gyms and personal trainers are crammed into busy lives, and fashion is followed more rigorously than any religious creed. The foundational belief is that who we are and the bodies we have are in dire need of salvation. For those that don’t measure up, don’t become fundamentalists for the new human, there is only scorn and derision.
I have heard, and have heard of others who constantly criticise that “so and so is a waste of fresh air,” or “she has no choice but to be a nice person with that body.” Men are ridiculed for wearing brief bathing suits, especially if they are older men or don’t have “abs of steel.” We hear “there should be laws against bodies like that” when men and women who are neither young nor firm. This is especially true when these imperfect bodies of men and women are naked or even scantily clothed. “A woman her size should never wear a bikini.” It isn’t the nudity that is vilified as we have no issues with nudity of sweet, young things; physically fit younger men, or bodies that seem to invite us into intimate relationship.
Regardless of what others say about the human body, we are the harshest critics of our own body. We just can’t seem to see ourselves without the filters given to us by media, by our peers, and by “people that matter.” As a result, it often takes humans decades to give up on the myth of having a perfect body. At that point we either say “to hell with what others think” and dare to be real people in real bodies; or, we cloak ourselves in multi-layers and become personalities.
It is Friday and I’m already limiting my exposure to sunshine. The last thing I want to do is burn and I hate using sunscreen all the time. And no, I don’t spend all of my time indoors looking out as in this photo. The photo is to serve a different purpose.
I am lucky in comparison to so many who are trapped in their workspaces and living spaces by the weather. I remember looking out on sunny winter days when the temperature was harsh, longing for a bit of freedom to escape au naturel into the world.
At least I was clothing free in my home. The same can’t be said for so many who are trapped in their clothing, trapped by their minds that have embraced fear, or false norms of what it is to be a human. Some are so imprisoned that they even hide from themselves, denying themselves as though that would somehow grant them entry into some afterworld of pure light where everyone who makes it is swaddled in layers and layers of robes singing the praises of a god who has condemned most of humanity to eternal suffering. So, they practice being sexless, subservient denying the gift of their mind and their body and their gender and their instincts.
If one assumes there is a god, then that god created these human bodies, naked. He or she created bodies and minds and instincts. We have a story of that creation and in that story we are celebrated in our nudity. Our rejection of that nudity got us tossed out of that Garden, a paradise. So we created a different paradise based on our initial rejection of the Garden, a paradise where there is no way to differentiate gender, no temptation of body, no temptation by environment – we have a featureless paradise that is more cocoon that reward for living a good life. And then we redefine a good life to be one that is lived in fear and swallowed pride and anger where “self” is denied, where the “present” is denied.
And so we hide feeling empty, longing for freedom yet terrified that to engage fully in the world will damn us for eternity. We fear our god, we fear, we cower, we hide.
We are finally warm again. We arrived in Puerto Morelos yesterday just as the afternoon was edging into evening. No sooner had we dropped off our minuscule bit of luggage, we found ourselves walking a few blocks towards the centre of the town to eat out at a place called La Sirena with our landlady. We enjoyed a good meal on the second floor patio restaurant then headed back to our small home away from home. We were tired and knew we wouldn’t be staying awake too late – just time for wine and relaxation before crawling into our bed for a great night’s sleep.
There’s something to be said for returning to the same place when heading to a tropical destination to escape the cold winds and temperatures of winter. Foremost among the benefits is the fact that there is basically no adjustment period. Familiarity has one soon following habits and patterns already cultivated in that new environment. We knew that there would be the weekly farmers market this morning, just as we knew where to find that farmers market. Now, our refrigerator is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables.
After shopping, we headed out for a two hour stroll down the beach. We decided to walk our usual eight kilometres – four out and four back – a stroll that took us past various resorts including Pearl Desire, a nudist resort with a clothing-optional beach. Strangely, few people on the beach or on the lounge chairs were nude. Most were discretely covered, a contrast from the past several years we have been making this stroll. I wonder what has changed?
Before heading back to our studio suite, we went into the Sea for another half of an hour. Initially the water was cold, but we soon adjusted to the temperature as I relished being bathing suit free once I was in chest deep water. Even though we were in the public sector of the beach, once in the water, I always remove the swimsuit and use it as a wristband. Finally, hunger drove us to return to the suite and make a vegetable stir fry. Now, it is relaxation time before we head into the centre of town for a community celebration. I am lucky in that I can spend most of this relaxation time in my birthday suit.
The first of January, 2016. For the first time in a few years we actually were awake when the New Year arrived in our corner of the world. I continued the tradition of not making any resolutions. It’s enough that I am still here, still breathing, and still being present as much as I can with each moment that appears.
Yet, I do have desires, goals of sorts, that lay in front of me. And, I have expectations that are based on my habits and history. I expect that I will continue to write. I have two books in progress at the moment. I expect that I will continue to wake up nude each morning beside my nude wife and be satisfied if not even blessed. I expect that I will continue to take photos simply because. Of course all of this is based on the assumption of continued existence.
I know that death is a constant companion for all of us. I am not trying to be morbid, but simply to state a fact that should let us look at the moments in front of us as precious. Seize the day –carpe diem– for this may be your last day. Revel in each moment of relationship, in each sunrise and sunset, in the currents of air that touch you, and in your own being. The expression “today is the first day of the rest of your life” suggests that one doesn’t waste these precious days and hours, but perhaps we need to also have an older expression that comes from my indigenous roots – “today is a good day to die.” This isn’t to suggest that we embrace death, but that we meet each day honourably and authentically so that if and when death comes, we can leave this place having done the best we could.