Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: January 2018

Nude Huaorani Tribe of Ecuador

Huaorani Tribe

Obviously I didn’t take this photo. I found it doing research on the Huaorani Tribe which still lives in the region I visited a few days ago. If one goes further down river into Yasuni National Park, the men in a few isolated villages still have this dress code. The penis is held against their body in the upright position with a string, a practice begun when a boy becomes a man in their society. To be seen without the penis string is akin to being seen naked for most North and South Americans. What is seen over the string is the foreskin which stretches over time.

The two women in this image, on the left hand side with the children, have the same string which likely signifies that they are dressed as well. The best guess would be to say that if one is without their string, there must be an intention for some private activity between a man and a woman.

In the last image, a young woman has a stylised version of the belly string. Other similar photos show her with other young women all dressed the same obviously taking part in a tribal dance. While I was in Misahualli, along the same River not too distant from the isolated villages where the people still live, hunt and work nude, a similar dance was given by some women from a different village. Of course, being near civilisation, they wore grass skirts and a coconut half-shell bra for the performance to welcome the Gringo visitors to their village. I didn’t make it to the distant villages as it would have required an additional few days. Since I was part of a small group of eight with a larger agenda, I deferred to the group. Perhaps someday I will make another Amazon journey to see the more isolated villages of the Huaorani Tribe.

The Nude World of Rodin

The Thinker in Costa Rica 2010

Following our pilgrimage from Saint Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain (the famous 800 kilometre long Camino) in the fall of 2915, my wife and I returned to Paris where we decided to spend time visiting the “Jardin de Sculptures” and the “Musée Rodin”. I am a thinker for the most part, but I don’t sit in the classic Rodin pose for thinking though I do much of my thinking while in the nude. There is something about thinking in depth that I find is enhanced when I am skyclad. The body ceases to be a distraction which occurs when clothing constricts with unpleasant pressures.

Rodin’s “The Thinker” drew its inspiration from Danté and was originally entitled the poet. It makes sense as a poet lays bare the soul of man. Danté laid bare the fears and hopes of the Christian world of his time, a time when there was still belief in magic and the old stories.

The Thinker wasn’t Rodin’s first work depicting a nude. His first nude  was male statue that he had cast two years earlier, the “Bronze Age” statue, which had the intention of showing “man arising from nature.” Rodin soon followed this with yet another nude male statue, that of Saint John the Baptist.

St. John the Baptist as a nude makes sense when one considers that all baptisms from early Christian history were done with both the person being baptised, as well as the person doing the baptism being nude. But what was almost disquieting about the statue was that the penis was hidden, something that Rodin hadn’t been shy of including in his other works.

There were two particular statues that caught my attention that honoured women, “The Kiss”and the “Eternal Idol“. Rodin’s “approach to sculpting women was of homage to them and their bodies, not just submitting to men but as full partners in ardor.” (Wikipedia)

Rodin celebrated the natural human body, and his works are celebrated as art. It is a sad commentary that today, nude human bodies can only be exposed in art, porn flicks and in advertising. As long as we can make money from human nudity, all is well. Showing real human skin in non-commercial, non-organisational situations such as in one’s own home or back yard is seen and judged as a perverted act, sinful and even illegal in most parts of the world, a world in which we are all born naked.

The Fallacy of the Right to be Nude

Right to write nude

In a world that is structured around community, there are no real individual rights. Relationships are about negotiation. I will give you this freedom, if you give up that freedom. We don’t have the right to anything, even life. Once one realises that one isn’t owed anything, one can begin to navigate the world with more safety and sanity.

Though I was born naked, I don’t have the expectation that I will be able to live naked in a community that is shared by others. Of course one could say that this isn’t true if one decides to live in a nudist community. But, one would be mistaken. Again, living in a nudist community is a negotiated agreement. One can’t simply move in and leave it at that, especially if one is a single male. In quite a number of nudist communities only single women and couples have the “right” to join. Single men must wait until gender numbers allow for another single male to enter into the community if there is that possibility in the club’s rules. No one is “owed” the right to membership in a nudist community. Membership in the community is at the pleasure of the community.

We seem to be blinded to this fact and join in all kinds of protests to force community to honour our rights to live, work and play without the requirement of wearing clothing. We somehow feel society owes us this. One must pay the price in order to belong in a community in order to have the services and privileges of that community. Yet even when one is within the community, rights and privileges are not really coded as black and white. There are fine lines of compromise that are constantly shifting. What is a privilege today may become banned behaviour, should the community will it.

Of course, most nudists and naturists are aware of this fact of life within community as they take their desire for freedom from clothing to the privacy behind their own closed doors. There, if one is truly alone and the draperies are kept closed, one has full freedom. However, should another person live in the dwelling or enter the space that you call home, again it comes down to negotiation. Negotiation leads to accommodation for the present but has no guarantees for the future. Because each one of us changes over time, we can never predict the nature of that change and how that change will effect our relationships and our rights in those relationships. In truth, we cannot even predict the survival of the relationships.

The right to be bare only exists at the moment of birth; from that point onward, unless we are in total isolation, we are subject to our communities and our relationships which require that we learn how to negotiate to get some small part of our unique, individual needs.

Tearing Down Walls and Fences To Discover Truth

Prairie barbed wire fence 2011

In August 2011, just weeks before I returned with my wife to teach in a university in China, I found myself needing to escape from the confines of my clothing. It had been a hard summer, issues with my ageing and dying mother who was being stubborn. I knew that before I could return to Canada after another year as an education prof in China, she would die. She knew it and I knew it. I so desperately wanted answers to questions that had plagued me since my childhood, yet she had built a wall around herself and the past. There was no way I could breach that wall. And it was my frustration with these psychological fences behind which we hide and deny that took me one day into the countryside, to the wide open spaces that characterise the Canadian prairies, a place that I captured above in a photo.

Fences on the prairies are most often not too substantial – an occasional post and three widely spaced wires such as I found myself leaning against that hot summer day in 2011.  Yet for their flimsiness, they are effective in keeping one in or out according to the intentions of the fence builder.  Well, sort of effective.  The truth is if I want to get to the other side of the fence all I would have had to do is to was hold the top wire down and step over; or, I could have separated two of the wires in order to slip through the larger opening.   The fence does work for the rancher in keeping his cattle from wandering off into valuable crop land, as well as keeping the herd together.  I

We build fences in our heads trying to keep our secrets safe from others.  We even build fences within our psyche to hide uncomfortable memories, and shady stuff about ourselves, from ourselves, like my mother had done.  We bury the dark things we want to deny under layer upon layer of barbed wire, behind high solid walls that are layers as wide as they are tall.  But for all of our efforts, the hidden and denied garbage finds ways to slip out unknown to our conscious ego.  Often we don’t even realise that something has slipped out.  It is only when others around us question our statements or actions that we find ourselves first denying doing these things and then wondering “Where did that come from?” Of course, we only ask ourselves this if we are open to learning more about ourselves, and willing to learn unpleasant truths.

If one looks at one’s relationships, one sees the denied shadow buried behind the psychological fences, projected onto others.  Our responses to others are triggered by what the self sees as its shadow projected.  Imagine the confusion that others face when they are held in too high or too low esteem given the circumstances of engagement.  A man treats a woman as a goddess and places her on a pedestal. It is a position that no mortal woman can hold for too long before getting angry as the pedestal doesn’t give her the needed freedom to be herself.  A man treats another woman as an evil witch though having no basis for so treating her.  In both situations, the man is projecting his repressed anima, his soul both dark side and light side onto others, others who are just as human, just as flawed and perfect as the man unconsciously projecting his inner, hidden and contained complexes.

The higher and thicker the walls of containment, the bigger the explosion and disruption of our outer life.  The work of therapy is to begin discovering the fences and carefully taking them down so that the stuff contained can make its appearance in a safer environment.  Making its appearance, aspects of the shadow, the unconscious can be integrated into a healthier version of self.

Nature Was Naked And So Was I – Walking in Nature

Philippines 2011

Today I am bringing another post from 2011 from the ashes to be shared, with necessary additions and changes. Though it was written seven years ago, when I began my first attempt at a blog site about naturism, it deserves to be resurrected for the message is as relevant today as it was in 2011. In spite of my past forays into the world of naturism, it wasn’t until 2011 that I acted consciously, making a choice to be naked, especially in natural settings.

My first recollection of being naked in a nature setting came from when I was thirteen with the scene having me at a dugout out in the Alberta countryside with three other boys. I was the last to discard my protective layer of shorts. As the new boy in town, I knew that I either became like them or I would remain isolated. Little did I know that something deep within me had been ignited, a way to be in the world that has become a need, as much as it is a desire.

As I write these words in 2018, I do understand that many in the world do not see the naked body as a moral issue as it is understood in the North American collective. I am aware enough to also realise that even looking at a global perspective, the number is far from being what could be called a critical mass necessary for survival should it come down to a conflict of values in the broader public sphere. Naturists continue to exist in both Canada and the U.S.A. and have gathered together at private campsites, private resorts, or isolated beaches for .  North American society grudgingly gives in to these isolated pockets while maintaining as much pressure as they can to push the fundamentalist, Victorian ideology/morality as far as they can in terms of public freedoms. And given the recent trends and actions, the push back is growing in power and intensity.  Strangest for me in all of this brouhaha is how the focus is on having citizens keep their clothes on,rather than deal with real issues of sexual exploitation and violence.

I am a naturalist in a quiet and private manner.  Of course that means that I pick and choose my times for liberation from my clothing. At the least, I find sleep as a time, space and place for being natural.  It is interesting to me how in honour this belief in sleeping nude, I have unintentionally allowed the portal to the dream world to be more active with me remembering my dreams, I have become more receptive to whatever the unconscious is trying to communicate to my dim-witted consciousness.

In doing my research for this post I came across a few interesting thoughts that I would like to bring forward here.  The first is from Walt Whitman, taken from his work, Specimen Days.  I have just quoted a few of the words from this section (133) called A Sun-bath – Nakedness:

“Never before did I get so close to Nature; never before did she come so close to me… Nature was naked, and I was also… Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! – ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability, that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent.” (Whitman, Specimen Days, “A Sun-Bath – Nakedness,” 1892

Another one of my early influences on a number of different levels, was Henry David Thoreau who wrote a three-part essay called walking (available now in various ebook formats from the Gutenberg project) written in 1861 from which he offers his thoughts on being “natural”:

We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.” (Thoreau, Walking, 1861)

I know that I have found peace in nature, especially when clothing is set aside for a brief time.  I have found this peace in lakes and in gentle pools along various rivers, walking through a Yucatan estuary, on protected areas along seashores, in isolated fields and meadows and while walking down remote trails in the wilderness.  This is not about social activity or about sexual gratification.  This is about being honest with oneself, stripping away yet one more mask and exposing all the flaws so that they can be accepted as natural aspects of self rather than as deficits.

How does nature fit into your world when the choice is to be clothing free?

Naturism, Transparency, and Authenticity

Curiosity in 2011

The original version of this post appeared in June, 2011 not long after I returned with my wife from our third year of teaching in a Chinese university in a city about three hours from Shanghai. As I wander through my older posts which first existed on a blog site called Through a Jungian Lens, I am finding that there are a surprising number that included the idea of naturism. And posts such as this one which appears with a fair bit of editorial license, I chose because it appears to be relevant to my life in 2018, and the world of naturism. After all, this is a blog site that has naturism as its raison d’être.

This shrieking is heard across all of our media in today’s world as group after group have taken to declaring the natural aspect of being human with a naked human body, is unnatural and an affront to all civilised people. It is as though that the more we hide the grossness of the human body, the more we can pretend that we are civilised. We wear designer clothing, make the proper kinds of comments about the proper topics. We use every kind of antibacterial cleansers to ensure no dirt sticks to us. We wrap our children in bubble wrap to protect them from a nasty world. We even put clothing on our pets so that modesty is preserved, proving to the world just how civilised we are.

The image is chosen above is symbolic to me of times long past that are more about the curiosity of adolescence and young adulthood than about midlife, or now as a senior citizen.  I am reminded of how over the years I celebrated naturalness in the water.  In today’s world there is an element of fear attached to being natural.  I admit that I am quite conflicted about the being at one in a natural state, in the world.  I have been a naturist in small, private moments yet I have had to choose with care these moments because of the impact it has on others in my life.  Unfortunately, I didn’t always choose well  for I was seen nude by others. And the cost to me, and those around me in terms of my being considered a civilised man was challenged to no end. I mean, how can I claim to be civilised when another person sees me full frontal without clothing.

When I was younger, I didn’t care that much.  Isolated beaches, forest meadows, in the privacy of home naturalism was present in small doses.  My children grew up knowing the freedom of skinny-dipping and moving from bath to bedroom without body shame.  We never passed a camping trip without at least one skinny-dipping night swim.  Somehow, for some reason, the need to be civilised has changed all of that. Now, there is a threat to those who dare to be natural. As in the recent Calgary Swim debacle, the civilised voices shrieked loud enough to make the nude swim go away. Threats of violence, threats of removing children from their naturist parents, threats of public naming and shaming were, and continue to be real. At all costs, and by any means, we have to keep natural man under wraps at all times so that we can be safe in a civilised world.

The world has changed. It has become more charged with sexuality.  With the growing ascendancy of the right, fear is reacting badly attempting to criminalise nudity.  Who in today’s modern world would take a photo of their children playing in the bathtub with cousins or siblings or parents?  Should someone dare this photo, it risks the photographer or owner of the photograph being charged with a criminal offence and being put on a registry of sexual offenders.  Walking in the buff in one’s own home is risky if any passersby chance to look in a window and see a nude body. Rather than risk being charged with indecent exposure and being placed on a sexual offender registry, we cover our windows or cover our bodies in our own homes. In this modern civilised world, our homes are not our castles.

Many psychologists say that clothing is an extension of ourselves. The clothes we wear are an expression of who we are. The Naturist’s comfort with casual nudity, therefore, represents an attitude which is comfortable with yourself as it is in its most basic state, without modification or deceit.(Indiana Naturists Blog)

Naturism.  It’s a word that is not held in high regard in the western world for the most part. Johann Lemmer, in his work, Introduction to Sexology, discusses CG Jung’s concepts in terms of sexuality and suggests that the moral issues that confront modern man are often centred around sexuality and points to the masculine and feminine images and archetypes discussed by Jung as psychology’s attempt to deal with the issues. One needs to remember that Jung’s work was built on the foundation of Freud’s work which has a significant focus on human sexuality.

“FKK” (Frei-Körper-Kultur) or “Free Body Culture”. FKK derives its roots from the philosophical works from Carl Gustav Jung (one of the founding fathers of modern psychology) and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (German physicist and philosopher), who maintained nudity was a form of returning to nature. Specifically, it was a form of returning to the natural state of mankind, before clothing dictated our social status, and set standards of how much respect we pay to people based on the clothes they are wearing.  (Celeste Neumann)

Good information, but how does that solve the moral dilemmas being faced by men, women, and children in both Canada and the U.S.A.   And more importantly for myself, how do I navigate to liberate myself from the attitudes of those around me?  I know it is my choice, that I can find the space, place and time for naturism.  Yet, my choices always seem to have an impact on others, others who have meaning for me. I don’t live in a bubble and the important people in my life are subject to the same relentless barrage that demands a conformity to the collective in order to be civilised and accepted into the larger community.

As the years pass by, it seems that I am losing the battle to be even a little bit of a natural man. As one of my acquaintances has said in the past few days, “I have had a feeling our nude recreation culture, that was popular with us boomers is being lost on later generations. We had a sanctimonious religious right before. Now they are driving home their case even more as they are losing ground on nearly everything dear to them such as gay marriage, abortion, immigration, and even separation of church and state. We are one undefended prize in their agenda.”

We are Part of the Whole – I am Part of the Whole

Man in the moon in Costa Rica 2010

Why did I choose this photo taken nine years ago?  Why did I even take it back then? It was my first intentional self-portrait that dared to challenge my self-identity but that wasn’t the reason. The truth is, I don’t know why I took it, nor did I know why back then. It just happened, what can best be described as a “what the hell did I just do?” act. In spite of what all previous photos had told the world about me, this semi-nude photo contradicted the carefully crafted image of the quiet, conservative, make-no-waves image that I had come to believe was the real me. Of course way down deep, I knew better, as did my wife and children. In spite of my best intentions, there were other moments where my clothes fell off and likely caused some concern, usually when we were camping and there were less public beaches and sand dunes involved. “What if someone sees you don’t have your pants/shorts/bathing suit on?”

As with my first post here on my “new” naturist blog site, this post was written, for the most part, in the distant past. I had written the basic core of this post in Costa Rica in March, 2010. I used a different photo back then, chosen after the post had been written, taken specifically for the original post.  Now, given the opportunity to revisit the original post I have changed my mind about the image that I want to be used, an image that I hope better fits.

In my culture a man is considered normal or better-than-normal if he is tall, light-skinned, and trim and fit.  I am small, short, and not a candidate for any “hunk” status as the defined six-pack abs are missing. I am also dark-complexioned and quite hairy all over.  Society has men be men with an active sex life that woos many and scoring many conquests.  I only wanted to be desired by one woman.  One woman finding me to be the man of her sexual dreams was my dream.  Of course that only set me up for maintaining my virginity into my twenties. And, like so many other men, it set me up to dislike my body. I devalued the physical man that I was, and I still wrestle with the belief that my body is my enemy. You’d think that growing older would have solved the body issues problem. But the truth is, today in 2018, my body still is my enemy.

So, I chose this photo, an image that is explicit though its lines are soft enough to give the photo a certain artistic quality that saves it from being just another opportunity for nude exhibitionism.  But in all honesty, can I deny the intent?

“If anything of importance is devalued in our conscious life, and perishes – so runs the law – there arises a compensation in the unconscious.  We may see in this analogy to the conservation of energy in the physical world, for our psychic processes also have a quantitative, energic aspect.  No psychic value can disappear without being replaced by another of equivalent intensity.  This is a fundamental rule which is repeatedly verified in the daily practice of the psychotherapist and never fails.” (Carl Jung,The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

These words written more than eighty years ago, before I was even born addresses the idea of how devaluing ourselves results in problems. What has been devalued in my life?  Well, I guess that the answer isn’t as easy to state as I thought it would be.  For so many years I devalued myself as a short man, one who didn’t fit in.  I lived in redneck country when I left my youth as a city kid.  I was the odd man out and soon believed that I even looked odd.  That feeling has never really left me and I am just now learning to accept that perhaps I am not odd as I came to believe. After all, I have all the same parts as other men and few of those other men I have come to know in my life have a perfect body.

There was no question in my mind that any woman would actually find me attractive, especially in midlife, I was certain that should I ever find myself without my wife I would likely remain alone.  I never did understand what my wife ever saw in me.  I was and am certain it had nothing to do with my looks or sexual attraction.  She saw something buried under the skin that she valued, likely that old expression holds true here – opposites attract – we are fully opposite (INFP versus ESTJ) in so much.

Of course this lack of body and sexual value for myself had to find another outlet.  Dreams became a hot and steamy affair.  The face of anima often came looking like a harlot, tempting me.  Strange how all of these dreams did nothing but leave me feeling guilty as though is some way, I had cheated on my marriage.  The repressed contents also found a veiled presence in poetry.

My outer life served as a reverse mirror for what was happening within.  Denying self, denying need all in hopes of becoming more acceptable only served to have anima become even more a temptress.  I saw myself as more and more unworthy because of the dirt that was bubbling within.  It was only to be expected that something would break.

“The doctor in me refuses point blank to consider the life of a people as something that dos not conform to a psychological law.  For him the psyche of a people is only a somewhat more complex structure than the psyche of an individual.  Moreover, has not a poet spoken of the “nations of his soul”?  And quite correctly, it seems to me, for in one of its aspects the psyche is not individual, but is derived from the nation, from the collectivity, from humanity even.  In some way or other we are part of a single, all-embracing psyche, a single “greatest man,” the homo maximus, to quote Swedenborg.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

“The psyche of a people” is a powerful statement.  When one thinks of it, it is something we have always known.  We have no problem with the idea of a culture, a nation having a certain way of being and believing and acting in concert with each other; something that defies logic where one sees a large group of individuals in any particular culture.  One would expect a lot more variation.  Travelling has accentuated the notion of a collective psyche.  And in accepting this idea, I see how my psyche is connected to the collective regardless of my sense of alienation.

In my culture, shame of body, shame of sexual desire is embraced by the collective of a mostly conservative people.  And in the collective, of which I am a part, the body is best hidden under layers and layers.  Even at a beach, bikinis are sometimes worn but are typically covered with tee-shirts and baggy shorts or some sort of material.  Shame of body, a sexual body, is also hidden under layers of fat.  If one can look unappealing sexually, then perhaps one will kill sexual desire within.  But it doesn’t work and we cover ourselves in tattoos, we pierce our bodies, and spend exorbitant amounts of money for clothing behind which, if we are lucky, the truth of our bodies are hidden.

So we repress as individuals, repress as cultures, repress as a human race trying to proclaim that we are beings that transcend fascination with the human body and human sexuality.   And in this repression, we end up hurting ourselves and others.  We become tyrannical. And it is here where the deviant within surfaces to lurk in the world of porn and perversion, a dark world.  And in defence of ourselves, we go on crusades against others who dare to challenge our insane war against our naked humanity. Today’s conflict in Canada, at the beginning of 2018, concerning nude swimming venues for family participation, is just the tip of the larger conflict where the collective unconscious seems to be winning, a war of darkness versus the light of awareness.

And as each of us become more conscious, we do influence the consciousness of the whole.  Perhaps there is real hope.  Maybe I am not so absurd, not a dirty old man after all.  Perhaps I am just an ordinary human.

Offended and Angry and Prone to Violence

Writing in Olon 2018

I know, the title sounds offensive. How could I even resort to using words such as this? I mean, this is supposed to be a place where I calmly and dispassionately look at the human psyche, both personal and collective, with a view to allowing others to “perhaps” have an “ah-ha” moment where and when my words strike a sense of confirmed awareness. After all, I know that no one else has ever convinced another person through “reason” to change their mind and opinions that are embedded in certainty. So, what is it that has resulted in one of my “triggers” being pushed and “reactive heat” emerging? The answer is a recent event in Calgary, Canada. Yes, I am going to wade into this morass of fear, anger, and hatreds. Be warned.

At the centre of the conflict was the simple fact that what has been happening in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Regina, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montréal for decades, family swims with nude participants, was brought to the attention of a group of people who reacted from a gut level in opposition to Calgary hosting such an event. Of course, if only the organisers had stayed under the radar the event would be happening without too much concern. There was a naive belief that people would simply not go if the idea was offensive to them. After all, we do live in a country that prides itself on freedom. Besides, if there were any concerns expressed, a good explanation with a dialogue that would satisfy anyone wanting answers would resolve those concerns. The naivety lies in the belief that calm and reasoned dialogue would resolve gut level reactions that have nothing to do with rationality.

You can’t have a dialogue where there is polarity. Black is black and white is white, regardless if the reality is that perhaps it might be pink or purple. Simply saying “I believe” … as the basis for validating one’s response is telling just how far reason is from the picture. The people opposed to the Calgary Nude Swim event truly believe, fundamentally believe, that children are at risk if they are in the presence of nude adults, including their nude parents. They fundamentally believe that no parent has the right to include their child[ren] in any event that has adult nudity. Such parents deserve to have their children placed into protective custody, for the safety of the children. There is no debate, no dialogue possible in such situations.

The attempts at dialogue have been many – the media has served as a forum for these endless debates – with the result that rather than hearing what was being said, most of it reasonable and intentionally steering away from personal attacks on the beliefs of those opposing the event, the “reactive responses” shifted to threats of violence. It’s all documented on national media including CTV, CBC, Global News, and many newspapers.  So how in hell did we get there from here?

The anger, hatred, fear, and feeling offended by anything that challenges a “cherished belief” has been here for a long time. It is more prevalent in certain parts of Canada, those parts that are more “conservative American” than their hated counterparts, the liberal eastern Canadians. To state that family nude swims have been acceptable in eastern Canada, or in Vancouver, doesn’t exactly have anyone stop to consider what these other parts of Canada have accepted as part of the fabric of being free and Canadian. If anything, the existence of these other places is anathema to proud conservatives in the western heartland, God’s country.

There is a fear that atheists, communists, socialists, liberals, and left wing intellectuals are threatening everything that the fundamentalists hold to be true. It shows up in the responses to the Calgary Nude Swim event proposal. Shrieks about how good Christians are being persecuted in their own country with the right to say Merry Christmas, or have a Christmas tree or a Christmas concert having been stolen. That these words would emerge in what was supposed to be a dialogue about a nude event, illustrates the nature of the gut-level response. There is no room for thoughtful conversation.

The result, so far, is that the event has been cancelled. The offended, angry, and righteous defenders of Canadian liberties [which are restricted to only their freedom and liberty] have won. It doesn’t matter how they won. So with that in mind, what is next?

I know that too much is at stake here. I mean, would you risk your job to stand up for the right to be nude, live nude, and/or play nude as a family? Would you risk your car being vandalised because your vehicle was found parked at an event where nudity was part of the event? Would you risk having your name publicised as attending this event, attached to statements about the likelihood of you being a pervert, pedophile, or an unfit parent? In Canada of all places in 2018?

Know Thyself – Know Myself

Who am I behind this skin?

Know thyself.  This is what the whole process of blogging here is about for me. I originally posted this eight years ago, when I had decided to write following my retirement from a lifetime spent in public education. I had lived a busy life as a teacher and as a school administrator. Raising three children with my wife and doing my part in the community filled up all of my waking hours. I was a successful teacher, a good father, a dependable member of the community, and somehow thought I had it all figured out. However, like almost everyone else, my ego didn’t really have a clue as I made the shift from believing I had my life cased, to waking up in a panic knowing that I really didn’t have a clue. Any and every illusion that I had life under control was swept away as if a tsunami had appeared. Let’s just call it, midlife crisis.

This attempt to write my way into becoming aware of who I am, to knowing my “self” a bit better that I started in January of 2009, was not the first attempt. I had been writing, burning what I had written, written some more, and discarding my efforts over and over again since 1988, the year my father died.  I didn’t make any connections with this event and my being plunged into the turmoil of my life disrupted. After all, my children were still at home and going to school, I was still teaching and coaching, I was continuing my studies with the idea of becoming an educational psychologist, and I was married to an incredible woman. None of that mattered as far as my inner self was concerned. The command surged through every pore of my being – know thyself.

So here I am again, now in 2018, thirty years later, still trying to uncover the answers.  What do I say?  What do I disclose?  What do I omit saying while leaving small signs that hint at what I am thinking?  What do I omit without even any crumbs of evidence of what is on my mind?  And these are just the conscious aspects of self knowledge in this blog conversation with my “self” that I will share once again, with “others”.  The act of putting words and photos on this blog has both personal and collective unconscious aspects that insinuate themselves within the words and in the choices of photos.  It is my belief that in blogging, the shadow, those unknown and hidden parts of who I am, will  allow me to catch glimpses of my “self.” In a way, isn’t that what we do when we take “Selfies”  hoping that somehow we will have a light turn on with of those “ah-ha” responses “I knew that!”?

Now, thirty years later the journey continues. Unlike, Odysseus, the road forward hasn’t ended up taking me home. Rather, what I now call my home, has changed places a number of times and is likely to change yet again when I least expect it. And now nine years later from my first blogging attempt, I return to learn and explore about what I will find beneath all the disguises, camouflage,  and self-deceits. For the past nine years, I thought I had lain it all bare, exposed everything so that I could know myself better, exposed warts and all. I used words, I used nude photography, I used philosophy, psychology and mythology. And yet, here I am, once again at the same spot, feeling compelled to “know myself.”

In the days, weeks, months, and perhaps years to come, I will revisit old posts, and create new posts. I don’t know how, or even if, I will use photos to illustrate my thoughts. I am a photographer and truly believe that photos are powerful. Yet, in spite of my using words like naturist, naked, nude, exposed, lain bare, etc., I am undecided as to whether my words would be negatively impacted with photos, especially photos which contain nudity. I do live in North America and the collective consciousness, and collective unconsciousness reacts negatively to nudity when it is nudity is not about sex, selling, and titillation.  But that said, I went back into my photo archives to pull this image from Goa, India which was taken in February, 2008. It captured best, perhaps, what I was experiencing when it came to understanding myself and the world around me.

And, for those who have been reading my posts from the past, I want to assure you that I will continue to add new material at a fairly regular level.

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