I am now in Calgary and I have completed my first book-selling, book-signing event in this city. I rented another Airbnb bedroom in the city rather than a motel room. Originally it was because of costs, trying to find a way to come out at the end of such a tour having actually made a bit of money. Two years ago, I tried using my camping trailer to do the trip and found that the prices to rent a space in a campground was more expensive than renting a room in a house, though still considerably cheaper than renting a motel room.
Most of the rooms I rent are pleasant. The truth is, I haven’t had a negative experience to date. Because of the timing of the events, I have time to myself alone in each house. As such, I get to enjoy each place as if I am at home. I also get to use the kitchen to cook myself meals, free WiFi, and have the sense of being in someone’s home. I have stayed in motels and hotels and this has never been the case. Motels are so impersonal. Homes are homes, places that are not that much different from homes of friends and extended family members. The difference makes being away from home to do a book-signing tour a better experience.
Today, like most days, I am the first to awaken. I own most places during the faint light of the predawn. As such, I find myself unconstrained by my typical self-censored behaviour. I emerge, transparent and naked. The only rule I impose on myself is one of silence as if I am in a holy place. During these early hours I risk listening to my thoughts and the faint presences that move within me, those shadowy figures within my underworld. At my age, I have come to accept their presence. After all, these presences are simply the voices and faces of who I was and could have been.
And yet, I am fully aware of the presence of others. Three children and an adult sleep within this home in which I am a visitor. Two small dogs are awake though quiet. I can sense that the dogs are on edge, perhaps even anxious as they wait for their family to waken. My wakefulness is marked by an alertness that scans the environment so as to sense any indications of anyone waking up to claim their rightful space in their home. There is no way that I would allow them to be stressed in any form by the sight of an authentic man. Rather, I make sure that who they get to see is who they believe me to be – grandfather or parent. I am confident enough in my “self” to slip back into my varied roles without fearing the loss of self-identity which has emerged over so many heroic battles within the inner swamplands that sought to claim me, over and over again.
The morning light grows stronger, and like a chameleon, the visible me blends in with the rest of the world, at least on the surface. It’s time to say, “good morning, world.”
It is still the first half of August, yet it feels as if we are in the heart of autumn. There hasn’t been any real sunshine or warmth for the month and the long range forecast is not indicative of any improvement. When I took this photo just moments ago, it was 11 degrees Celsius and overcast with the promise of rain before mid-morning. It’s gloomy weather, not a naturist’s dream by any means.
Naturally, weather affects one’s mood. When this kind of weather comes to endure, I slip into a more pensive state, one that more grounded in reality rather than flying around like Icarus chasing dreams of what could be in a perfect and sunny world. At times like this, this damp, cool, and slightly dark time, I lose energy and the fog of depression appears just outside the corner of my eyes, letting me know that the castles in the air have dungeons. I have learned to take these moments seriously rather than trying to deny them. Give shadow its due and there is more space for life.
Of course, this could all be a matter of my age as well. After all, I am seventy years of age, older than dirt to almost everyone in their first half of life. When the shadow appears at the edges, youth denies what they sense and then through themselves into all sorts of activity to drown out the interior voices that call like some Siren out of the depths of the sea. I’m to old to engage in mental and physical acts of escape when the shadow emerges. Rather, I cautiously engage the shadow in a conversation that has no spoken words. We end up nodding to each other respectfully, of course with an acknowledgement that we’ll meet up again when the conditions are ripe.
Back to the present, I am back in the house, drinking morning coffee and writing. I don’t have to think of anything or plan anything. I will be a day indoors with playtime with my grandchildren.
One of my good friends in the Social Media world is Bob Neutan. We are only months apart when it comes to age. He is the older one. Bob and I talk together on a frequent basis on wide ranging topics. Every once in a while I like to share the wisdom that Bob brings to the world. With the world doing its best to keep all of us on the head of a pin with anxiety, it takes a lot of effort to withdraw from the noise and see what is really going on in one’s life. We like to blame social media for our dissociation from being fully present in life, but the truth is that the problem of dissociation predates social media. We let things and events immediately around us, displace our attention on self. It makes it much easier to find someone else, or something else to lay the blame for our own failings. It’s called projection and is as old as humankind.
Yet, every once in a while, life decides to smack us up the side of the head in an attempt to wake us up so that we can be fully present and own up. Death’s appearance is one of those things. When one of my brothers committed suicide, I got one of those wake up calls. More recently, another brother died of natural causes. I expected his death, yet I was shaken none the less. He was only fifteen months younger than me. Though he lived longer than our father, the issue of mortality again came calling. What it had to say had nothing to do with death and dying, but about living. Bob talked to me about a recent visit from the reaper in his life, words that I want to share here:
“Yesterday I heard that a man I have known for over 40 years died. We haven’t seen each other in awhile. We worked together and were in a small group of coworkers/ friends. Most of us left the company about the same time. We now had new attractions to keep us busy so we sorta drifted apart. His death does not seem so sudden, since he has been in poor health. Today I woke up knowing that his dear wife, who was a part if that small group, would never hear, see, nor touch him again. I just finished mowing the lawn. I stripped down. Looked at the beautiful scenery before me and know he is dispersed in that scene of nature. I can’t help to wonder who will be next to move on. I feel very alive, yet very dead knowing my next heart beat may very well be my last.”
Yes … feeling very alive yet aware of one’s mortality. One doesn’t curl up, shrivel, and concede defeat. One simply nods to the reality of one’s mortality, breathes deeply, and claims ownership of the hours, days, months and perhaps years remaining.
As you likely know, I am in Edmonton to sell and sign books. Yesterday was the first such event, one that was quite successful as I sold 14 books, more than I had expected for a Thursday. Once done, I headed over to the room I had rented through Airbnb. When I got there, I was in for a surprise as the house is beautiful and the young couple who offer a room in their house to guests were incredibly hospitable. They even provide a continental breakfast. Since the leave the house early, I was able to enjoy breakfast au naturel as I would at home. It is always a relief to find a comfortable and clean place to spend one’s free time when travelling.
While relaxing in the house, I got a message from one of the organisers of the Edmonton Cotton Tail Naturist group inviting me to meet for lunch. Originally, I was going to go the the Cottontail Beach, but the weather is very cool, breezy with a promise of rain and no sun for the rest of the weekend. I made my way to the agreed upon restaurant and enjoyed an excellent meal and even better conversation with John Martens, the main administrator of Cotton Tail Corner. Check out the website and learn about this enterprising and inclusive group who give back to the surrounding communities.
As I write this, I am in the South Point Chapters store waiting for my starting time for selling and signing books. I will report back later, likely with an update, to speak about how this event unfolds.
UPDATE: I sold 14 books today, another good day, another pleasant surprise.
I’m in a book store in Edmonton and it’s in the middle of the afternoon, a Thursday afternoon. This is an experiment for me as I typically only sell books on weekends. So far, the store is kind of quiet with the exception of the Starbucks Coffee shop that is found in almost every Chapters and Indigo Book Store in Canada. I’ve even seen Starbucks in Barnes and Noble in the USA. I’ve propped up my small laptop on a display of Crosley turntables so that I can stand and type while monitoring the passing shoppers. It helps that I can touch type while look around. So far, no books have been sold though officially I don’t begin selling books for another ten minutes.
Occasionally folks stop to look and engage with me raising my hopes of a sale. Business cards are given out with a promise to buy my books as eBooks. The truth is, until the early evening, I don’t expect books to sell. I have plenty of time to look around, type a few words here and there, and think. The main theme that pops up in my head is that of why I am in the book store trying to sell my books. I have never sought out an agent or tried to publish the traditional route. At my age, it seems such a waste of time. In my opinion, all it would do would be create needless anxiety which would get in the way of my writing and the overall enjoyment of life.
One of the good things about meeting and talking with people is that most are interested in my “Broken Series.” Usually a good discussion evolves and time is well spent even if no book is bought. Now, it’s time to focus on the passing potential customers. Until the next time …
UPDATE: Fourteen books were sold by the end of my assigned time at the Indigo store. All-in-all, a profitable Thursday. Gas [one way, and lodgings have been paid for with some of my meals paid as well for this opening move. Three more book-signing events to go for this weekend.
In a few moments, likely as soon as this post is completed and published, I will be on the road again. First stop will be at my son’s home where I will deliver grandchild #6 to his parents after a nine-day holiday with his grandparents, cousins, and aunt and uncle. Because I woke up early in order to see my wife off to work, I was able to get an early morning image, likely the last such for today and most of tomorrow. I took it because of the quality of light, as well as for another entry into my journal.
I have been writing in my journal since mid-July. For me, writing in my journal is a hit and miss affair. Prior to this latest foray into keeping a journal, I last wrote in November 2018. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to record, it was more that I felt the need to distance myself from the journal. When I was a practicing psychotherapist/counsellor, I would often assign journal writing as a means to have a client begin to internalise their feelings and emotional responses to the issues that had brought them to my office. I was given the same assignment when I found myself in counselling following the suicide of one of my brothers back in the early 90s.
I kept a hand-written journal in the 70s and sporadically until I began to record the journal onto my computer-at-the-time during the 90s. I only have written journals from the recent past which record travels such as my Camino experiences.
On and off since then, I have continued to journal. Until I adopted naturism as a preferred state of being, I never included photos in my journal. I did use drawings, sketches and such from time to time, but those instances were rare. Now, a photo for each entry has become the norm, photos such as the one for this post. Naturally, my journal is written for my eyes only and doesn’t get shared. It is the only way to ensure that I am honest with myself. Even then, I am surprised at what is not said. It’s as though I have this deep-seated fear that someone will get a hold of the journal and read it. That fear assumes a critical and negative outcome should it ever happen. Yet, I still include a photo. The photo seems to be the least sensitive part of the journal.
Now, I want to know if you keep a journal. If so, do you hand write the journal? Enter it onto a keyboard? Encrypt your journal? Include photos of yourself or others or environment? I’m interested and I look forward to your responses.
I have to admit it, I am an addict. Do they have a chapter of addictions anonymous for naturists? When I go without nudity, I become testy and moody. It doesn’t matter that I sleep nude all the time, I can’t even begin to count those hours as nude time. I realise that this is not the same for everyone claiming and believing themselves to be nudists or naturists. For some, that might be the ultimate experience when it comes to what is possible.
Contrary what many say, naturism is as much, if not more a state of mind than it is a state of body. Look at it from the opposite POV – the sense of feeling clothing free is not limited to those who are nude. When a person is compelled to wear layers of clothing, to wear shorts and a tee shirt feels absolutely delicious and scandalous. When a person is nude 24/7, there is an equally delicious feeling wearing a piece of jewellery or garment that caresses like silk. We are confusing beings where black and white becomes a kaleidoscope of colours that seem to constantly shift. The only thing we can know for certain is what we feel, and even that is understood through a filter.
With that said, I want to return to my feeling of being an addict. As with any addiction, there are withdrawal symptoms. It becomes quite noticeable to others in my life. My wife can tell when I haven’t had enough nude time and tries to make time and space for me to release that pressure. Of course, when we go visiting for an extended time, it is impossible to fit nude time in. My mind tells me that I just need to suck it up and deal with it. I can always be nude when I return home. I tell that to myself with a firm belief that I can navigate through these clothing obligatory times. But like any addict, I lie to myself and find myself sneaking a quick fix of nudity. I sneak in these moments risking being caught.
The two images here today are real examples of taking risks because of addictive need when real life conditions make nudity pretty well forbidden. Simply taking the risk, even if for less than a minute, acts like a quick fix. However, like all addictions, risking quick fixes can backfire. I’ve been lucky … so far.
Now, it’s your turn. Do you take risks because of a sense of addiction, because the need seems to press on you? Does your need for nudity increase as time passes? Does nudity become an obsession?
Well, it’s day three at my daughter’s and all is well. Naturally, I define well in terms of relationships not in terms of my state of dress [or undress]. Cousins are getting along, no one is bored, and everyone’s favourite meals are being devoured. I couldn’t ask for more. Yet, that is exactly what I got today – more. My wife and daughter took the boys to a water park an hour and a half away from my daughter’s home. That meant I got time alone. Not the whole day, but enough time to go for a walk by myself before my son-in-law got home from work. There is a reservoir nearby where there are trails that follow the reservoir and provide a few locations for moments of being clothing free. Naturally, when there is warmth, sunshine, and opportunity I can’t resist. That explains today’s image.
It’s amazing what these small windows for naturism mean to people like me. It’s as if someone put me in a quick charger thus restoring my own energies and enthusiasm to be able to fully interact with positive attention in a clothed environment. The afternoon hours were then spent with another walk with my son-in-law and the dogs where we discussed all sorts of ideas that were as much about listening as it was about speaking. This evening after a pizza meal, there will be time for cards and watching football [CFL] on the television. With three boys in the house and everyone vested in one football team or another, this is an expected and valued way of being together.
As for tomorrow, we will see where that takes us. Until I return, be present in your world and be well.
This is a blog about the Naturist Community on Twitter. It is a community that is beginning to get a sense of itself as a community. It wasn’t all that long ago that the naturists on Twitter didn’t really have a group identity. The word naturist itself was problematic as it was used by any and all who were focused on nakedness. The porn industry itself was quick to use the word to garner attention to its product of sex. Others saw an opportunity to show the world that they had genitals [I always think of adolescents here and their discovery of the sexual nature of their genitalia]. Some saw the opportunity to shock and awe for various causes. The voices using the word naturist were legion.
Somehow, in spite of it, a community began to coalesce around the philosophy of naturism. It is the philosophy which doesn’t require the posting of personal nude photos which is at the heart of the community. Somehow, naturists – those new to the belief system and those who have been naturists for decades – began to find each other and support each other. At first the community was tentative and almost exclusively male. That was problematic and soon the members found themselves blocking intruders who had other things on their mind when it came to nudity. Perspective “friends” were vetted by what they “liked” and the images they posted. As a result, a sense of safety grew which then allowed for community to establish. It’s all still fragile, but at least it is there. The future as a community is real,