Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: April 2017

Naked in the Mirror

Another moment in time

Emma has graciously agreed to appear in yet another one of my blog posts, one that was inspired by a recent photo she posted on Twitter [not this one] of a photo taken while she was attending a gathering for Spencer Tunick’s “Sea of Hull” exhibition in which she had taken part.

When I travel, I basically never take a “selfie” using cell phone and mirror. Yet, I find that selfies such as created by Emma, are important markers of life, life as we see it and experience it. Selfies are acts of defiance stating “I am here and I am now!” They are also acts of self-validation and acceptance. We get to see ourselves exposed and vulnerable, captured in an image, perhaps with an honesty that we would rather remain blind.

Following the gift of Emma’s photo, I decided to try a similar one in my home with the following results. This is a different viewpoint, a different side of me exposed. I notice that with both Emma’s and my photos, there is no “sexual” aspect that is evident. Selfies most often betray, unintentionally or intentionally, our existence as sexual beings.

We think we know exactly who we are, yet we constantly surprise ourselves as we learn more about our hidden, unexposed parts – physiological and psychological. Selfies are experiments based on our curiosity about ourselves. What will we see? What will others see? How will we respond to our exposed self? How will others respond?

And then we turn around, look at ourselves directly, more familiar with what we see. Clothed or bare, we control the message of what is exposed beneath the surface of our being. At least, that is what we believe.

What others see is limited and coloured by their psychological filters. We have no control over these things. Those filters are built with personal history, whether it be within the family or within our societies. Those filters claim to be rational, but there is nothing rational about filters which prevent us from seeing simple and objective reality.

Looking at our own selfies and the selfies of others allow us to confront the filters, allow us to question what it is, exactly, that we see in these images. If only, we ask questions.

Changing Seasons

Lukas at home in wintertime

I have posted about my friend Lukas who lives in the Netherlands before. Like myself, he is married; and like myself, he takes advantage of opportunities to be nude both at home and when travelling to other countries. And, like myself, he participates in an on-line naturist community of sorts called the NOOK. Lukas is one of a small number of very close friends on that social media platform.

Springtime in the Netherlands

By the evidence of his more recent photos, the weather in the Netherlands is much nicer than here on the Canadian prairies. One of the things about living in a harsher climate, is the rarity of having a privacy fence that is green and alive. Survival of plants is always an issue when temperatures during the winter season plummet at times to colder than -40 Celsius, with long periods with wind and sub-twenty degrees searing vegetation.

Still, with care, even here, one can create a small green haven for enjoyment of sunshine. Yesterday, I noticed the soil bulging with new growth of our Rhubarb plants. Beside the garage, tulip plants have green shoots.

Today, here on the Canadian prairies, the sun re-appeared with the promise of a warm 13 C. predicted for the afternoon. It looks like spring has hopefully arrived to stay.

Home Naturism

There is little doubt in my mind that most people who call themselves naturists or nudists, mostly have the opportunity to be clothing free when at home. The truth is, we are not living on a planet that is “friendly” to the idea of naturists and nudists stepping outside of their dwellings while naked.

Regardless of whether we are introverts or extroverts, most of us who find ourselves stripping off our clothing when the opportunities present themselves, thrive best when other(s) share those opportunities with us. And it is important to note, that sharing time while nude is not mostly about finding sexual satisfaction. The satisfaction is more powerful than that.

Being in the presence of another or others who are similarly nude, presents us with a better sense of well-being. We become less critical of ourselves and others. When someone smiles in response to your presence, you feel better, appreciated, and accepted. However, these opportunities for sharing presence while nude are rare for most. The hole for some sort of fellowship is often filled with social media. Individuals reach out to others via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or on-line communities such as the NOOK, Naturist Community, True Nudes, MeWe, and so on. It’s not the best solution, but at least one learns that there are others out there who feel the need to lose the clothes, even if for only a few hours here and there. One feels less isolated.

Yet, even with that, one is left to one’s own for the most part as a home nudist – sleeping nude, doing dishes nude, reading or writing nude, and the list goes on. When weather is good enough, only a small number of these will risk going outside to bask in the sun’s rays – privacy concerns are real for so many. And from the reports from naturist associations, even fewer are heading out to socialise with others at naturist or nudist venues. It’s a problem most of us have to live with in our growth as naturists and nudists.

How do you fill in the hole of connection to others who are naturists/nudists?

The Illusion of Privacy

There, on my back deck, I survey the scenery of my back yard, and the view of neighbours’ homes. I read, have coffee, sometimes write, and simply relax on this back deck when the season and weather is cooperative. As much as possible, this is done skyclad. There is a back lane between my property and that of the neighbours for vehicles and passersby to navigate when there is a need.

In all honesty, I can’t begin to claim that I have privacy in my own yard. The fence is only five feet in height with spaces between the boards. Yet, I take the risk of nudity in my own yard. I have been seen by several of my neighbours. No one makes a comment about my state of undress. After all, I have published books that basically advertise to the world that I am a naturist.

Earlier this year, in January, the NSA was given an expanded mandate with regards to collecting our emails, phone calls, and other data that exists in the world. The following passage from the New York Times explains:

“The new rules significantly relax longstanding limits on what the N.S.A. may do with the information gathered by its most powerful surveillance operations, which are largely unregulated by American wiretapping laws. These include collecting satellite transmissions, phone calls and emails that cross network switches abroad, and messages between people abroad that cross domestic network switches.”

When we put that together with the fact that Internet Service Providers store all of our browsing history in some form or other, the illusion that we have any privacy at all, even if we build ten-foot high security barricades around our homes, is shattered. Now, our neighbours are able to get into the fray with the use of drones. These powerful flying cameras are now sold for use by children.  So much for privacy fences if there is any interest on seeing what’s going on in our yards by curious others. When you link that to what satellites are able to record [think Google Earth] one is left to wonder if there is anywhere one can “get off the grid” and escape detection. The answer is basically “No.”

With that knowledge, we can actually set ourselves free. Lose the illusion of privacy and one can decide “to hell with the world, I’ll just do what I need to do.” So my neighbours see me – then what? so what? They are more concerned about their own privacy than about your lack of concern for trying to hide just who you are.

I am a naturist. It is just the way it is.

Running Out of Gas

The weather is less friendly today as far as both skyclad time outdoors and my being energetic. Of course, that must mean that the sun has yet to put in an appearance. Well, technically, the sun is present, but it is well hidden by thick, grey clouds. It is especially in the afternoon that I personally find myself running out of gas.

I found an interesting article at Psychology Today that talks about this phenomenon :

“As the sun begins an earlier dip into evening darkness at this time of year, our mood and mental energy seem to dip with it. Known as the afternoon slump (or the brain-dead zone), most of us feel a stronger urge to be in bed with a pillow over our heads than to continue with our work obligations for another few hours.

Indeed, the fatigue sometimes seems so overwhelming, especially when the work preceding late afternoon has been mentally and emotionally stressful, that our bodies feel as if we’ve been on a construction site all day.”

The article talks about carbohydrates as a solution as opposed to a sugar fix. I wonder what they would have found if the subjects were given a healthy dose of sunlight while nude? At least the article agrees that “running out of gas” is a real problem that could use a real solution.

Again, it all comes down to “light” and the filtering or absence of light. This phenomenon is part of why I have done a lot of research for the use of nude therapy for treatment of depression, midlife crisis, and PTSD. A structured regime of sunlight therapy, especially while nude, does more, in my opinion AND experience, than pharmaceutical therapy.

Of course, there is not enough structured experimentation to either validate or refute this thesis. Nor, is there likely to be such experiments, at least in North America where prudity is the norm.

Cherishing Differences

M & S in the garden

I have written in the past using photos provided by M and S who live in Montana. Retirement is not treated as a time for sitting back in a rocking chair for this couple who are filled with a zest for life, a zest that takes them walking trails on the slopes of mountains and through wilderness valleys.

I sometimes find moments in the wilderness to be free to wander as I was created. But to be honest, not that often. There is the issue of the trails being public trails. And then, a much more serious consideration here on the prairies, is the presence of mosquitoes and other biting insects. For me, following dirt trails away from cultivated land, into the rolling hills, a landscape that is semi-desert with the requisite cactus and a distinct lack of humans. I take time to note where I am. If I am lucky, a mule deer, or pronghorn antelope, or a variety of birds appear to keep me company.

Mountain man and his lady

Unlike M and S, I take my strolls into the quiet of nature alone if I am to be skyclad like them. My wife is very supportive of my need to be skyclad, but doesn’t find the same need in herself. I take the time to meet my needs, when time and opportunity permits. And when the situation is right, she shares time with me while skyclad.

Relationship demands respect of and from the other(s) in a relationship. The greater the differences, the harder to balance those differences without demanding that the other mirrors the self. We cherish so many shared needs, activity, and habits – but more importantly, we leave space for the other to be a unique individual. The time of trying to mould the other to fit a desired template, has passed.

Psychological Fear of Being Naked

Today’s photo was taken yesterday when the sky was overcast which allowed only a low level of light to reach these northern prairies in Canada. One of the things I noticed when going over my photos, including this one, was the fact of muted colours. The rich bronze colour I am used to seeing was not there. If anything, the world looked anaemic. Of course, this gave me the only excuse I needed to write up this blog, a follow-up to the last post, chasing away the light.

I took the photo while taking a break from doing my taxes for 2016. And yes, I did my taxes while clothing free. Doing taxes is a depressing activity regardless if one ends up paying more taxes or getting a refund, at least as far as I am concerned. It felt like I was digging in the shadows, searching for buried – well, I can’t really call it buried treasure – for buried numbers. Like most who do their own taxes, I had papers strewn all over the office in scattered piles that I hoped would provide the needed numbers. In the end, the taxes got done and I was worn out in spite of the fact that I managed to squeak out a small refund from the government. A depressive fog had settled in while I hid in my office from the tiny bit of light that was outside.

With the lack of sunshine, there is a significant change in our energy levels, in our libido. For some, it is more serious than for others. This is especially noticeable in northern climes where the number of daylight hours is at its lowest point. In Canada, we talk about the phenomena as “cabin fever.” In medical terms it is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder – S.A.D.” But of course, not everyone is affected the same. For some, the winter is a time when energy blossoms. These are the people who need to hide from the sun during the summer. But for the rest, and majority of the human population, light equals energy – energy equals libido.

So, why do most of us continue to hide from the sun? We use sunscreen lotions and sprays [yes, I know, there is the fear of skin cancer] for protection. The more worried we are about cancer, the higher the Sun Protection Factor [SPF] we use. We even resort to buying clothing based on the SPF of the fabric. We don’t critically evaluate our real needs for protection, needs that change based on our adaptations to being in the sunshine. We base our decisions on fear that has been induced by the manufacturers of sunscreen products. We ignore the basic truth that these manufacturers are in it for profit, not for our basic human welfare. We base our decisions on the illusions fed to us by the clothing industry that echoes the petrochemical industry with their sunscreen products. We make our choices to hide from the sun out of fear.

It’s as simple as that. We are afraid of stepping out of the shadows – psychologically afraid.

Shadow Side of Sunshine

I love the sun. I treasure the transformative heat. It is as though each time, I dare being cooked to the point where a new “I” rises out of the ashes of the old “I.” This is psychological alchemy. But, there is more to the story that skin cancer worries or prudish covering up worries at work here.

I walk a lot in the various towns and cities we visit in North America. In both Canada and the U.S.A., my wife and I have noticed that the vast majority of the houses we pass as we wander these communities, have their draperies closed during the daytime, especially on bright and sunshine filled days. I realise that there are a a number of good reasons for this in the opinions of the people living in those houses. The majority want privacy. Some want to protect their furniture from becoming faded because of the intense sun’s rays. Some simply want to escape the distractions of a passing world. And then there are others who simply prefer living in the shadows.

In my home, draperies are opened when we wake up in the morning so that we entice whatever light that exists to fill our home. The draperies stay open until after sunset and the darkness returns to the land. Then, we turn on lights within our home until it is time for us to go to bed, and to sleep.

So how does this play out in the larger world, this hiding from the light? When I look at my home community, province, and country, I see that logic and common sense  seem to be almost figments of imagination. We all have our polarised ideas and ideals to which we cling to with fierce determination in spite of what might be considered opposing facts. Of course, we can’t see or hear anything clearly when our filters are engaged, not even the things we do or say are evident to us.

In the world-at-large appears to be spinning out of control, we seem to be digging shelters that are purposely hidden in the shadows within which we can sort of protect ourselves from the forces of darkness and the forces of light. We need to hide. There is conflict and that only means pain. We want to build walls to keep out the world. And that need is reflected in our communities and countries. Trump wants to build walls to keep out what he perceives is darkness. In the U.K., the same sentiment is being enacted as a wall of nationalism is being erected to keep out their perceived darkness. The drapes are being closed in the hopes that the problem goes away if we somehow just stay out of the light.

Plato’s cave as described in his book, “The Republic.”

We don’t want to know the larger story, we feel much more comfortable looking at the shadows which we then project as reality. I think here of the shadows in Plato’s story of the cave.  In his writing, Plato discusses:

“And if some one were to drag him violently up the rough and steep ascent from the chamber, and refuse to let him go till he had drawn him out into the light of the sun, would he not, think you, be vexed and indignant at such treatment, and on reaching the light, would he not find his eyes so dazzled by the glare as to be incapable of making out so much as one of the objects that are now called true?”

As Plato notes, humans have an aversion to light. We get angry when what is exposed by light contradicts what we hold as our truths. Of course, this is not just about humans in the past, this remains as psychological insight for today. As a culture we are fleeing from awareness – of self and other. We are fearful of being exposed and vulnerable, so we hide in the shadow imagining and hoping to be saved by the light that is filtered. The hard reality is that we need to be dragged into the light to expose to make ourselves vulnerable. Carl Jung had this to say, words that are more important now than perhaps ever in our human history:

”One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”

Dare To Bare It All

Celebrating sunshine

The sun came out and the temperatures soared to 10C/50F. In spite of the brisk breeze which denied the “feels like” temperatures to match the actual temperatures, I found a spot in the sunshine in the back yard to spend some quality time sunbathing. In the end, while having my skin slightly roasted, a poem was born which I intend sharing with a Clothing Free web presence that is hosting a naturist poetry competition. Whether the poem is enjoyed by others or not, it was enough for me to celebrate this occasion, a rare occasion in early April, for nude sunbathing on the Canadian prairies.

Daring to Bare

Looking out the patio door at the thermometer
Watching through the morning
For the temperatures to slip past freezing
Into friendlier temperatures
The time to slip outside
Bare as the day I was born
Had arrived.

Feet slippered with nothing else
Offering protection against the still chilly air
Walking through shadows on the deck
Descending stairs to reach a bench
Beside the garage
Which offered a slight windbreak,
I stretched out with my back to the sun.

Slight whispers of cool breath
Slipped over my skin
As I waited for the sun to begin heating
Back and buttocks,
A neighbour opened her door across the lane
Peering out in search of her two dogs
Unaware that a man lay naked
Only a short distance away
Easily seen.

It wasn’t long before
The sun’s rays worked magic
And warmth became pleasant heat
Making the risk of
Daring to be bare
Worth the moments in the sun.

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