Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: September 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Music, Food For the Soul

I have to credit music with saving my sanity, and perhaps even my life. Music is an essential part of our lives. One sees almost every one with earphones attached to cellphones or mp3 players walking down streets, jogging through parks, slouched in quiet corners, or almost anywhere you can find people. Listening to music both soothes and inspires. Playing music, whether to an audience or in the privacy of one’s home is more.

The focus of turning inward is not about escaping being present in the real world, for the real world includes an inner dimension. The personal unconscious, as well as the collective unconscious are the foundations for personal consciousness and the collective consciousness. Music is one of the bridges between the conscious and the unconscious self.

Carl Jung experienced music therapy in 1956, an experience with Margaret Tilley. The experience had him say, “I feel that from now on music should be an essential part of every analysis. This reaches the deep archetypal material that we can only sometimes reach in our analytical work with patients. This is most remarkable.” This idea of reaching deep into the personal unconscious was, and remains, the primary work of Jungian psychology. Art in all of its forms has been integral to all forms of depth psychology, from the Rorschach tests, sand play, dance, clay sculpting, and art in its myriad of forms.

Music, like all art forms, is a product of soul. As such, it allows one soul to connect to other souls. And importantly, it allows the musician to sense the truth of her or his own soul. Playing music doesn’t automatically allow the musician access to the soul. For too many, taking lessons has simply been about the mechanics of music. I know this through experience. My efforts with a violin and a flute taught me that these were not my instruments that would allow me to touch my soul, though listening to others play worked. I also saw the disconnect in children who were forced to take music lessons. Thankfully, I had found the guitar when I was fourteen. Since then, fifty-seven years ago, I only have to pick up one of my guitars and find myself larger and fuller than being just another older man in his seventies.

The Need For Others

An introvert risking being seen

It has been a few days since I last posted here, busy days. Today is another busy day for the most part, but I am able to find a bit of time for this place. So what has kept me so busy? Well, it is a combination of things, mostly garden work, long countryside walks, and some work on my various writing projects. With sunny days and warmish temperatures, it is hard to sit inside and write. These days are very numbered as deep autumn and winter tend to rush in at the first opening. As a result, here I am, writing before the sun rises for another day.

When I talk about psychological concepts, I find that I somehow embed a bit of Buddhism. It isn’t because I am a Buddhist. Though I once took refuge in Buddhism, I found out like with most things in my life, I couldn’t commit to being contained by this philosophy, or even less by the religion. Regardless, I found a lot of resonance between Jungian psychology and Buddhism. And that, enlarged the lens through which I see and understand the world.

The same holds true for naturism. There is no doubt that being nude and knowing that one is nude has a powerful effect on the psyche. Like everything else, humans are ranged along a line of tension in response to being nude. At one end, there is extreme distress and at the other end of the polarity is extreme bliss. For most, we find ourselves somewhere between the poles, just as we find ourselves somewhere along the line between introversion and extroversion. Now, it must be noted that one rarely sits still between the poles. Different times, different days, different circumstances will have us constantly shift towards one pole or the other. However, when the psyche is at rest, there one’s authentic is revealed.

One’s authentic self is also revealed in relationships. Relationships are messy, and they aren’t limited to face-to-face relationships. Aside from the need to be in relationships [this is also variable] and the biological imperative, there is a psychological dimension. It is only through interaction with others, and in particular a significant other, that we can finally come face-to-face with ourselves. We are drawn like a moth is pulled to a light in the darkness, to an “other.” Sometimes it is about love, sometimes it is about hate, and sometimes it is about a sense of being safe and protected. There are other reasons, but all have the same intent, one that comes from within one’s inner, unconscious self. What pulls us is part of our internal shadow that is projected onto the other. With no “other” all that is left is a substitution with material objects or with “pets” who are given human qualities, we anthropomorphize.

We need an other to engage with and confront if we are ever to know ourselves. I have put something called the Jo-Hari Window here to illustrate just how important the “other” is when it comes to self-discovery. My psych students used to have fun with this as they challenged each other to learn more about others, stuff that others had never disclosed, and about themselves as classmates pointed out characteristics that were known by them, but blind to the self. When one really thinks about it, almost everything we do and say when it involves other people, whether that other is friend, enemy, lover, offspring, stranger – it all is driven by biological and unconscious psychological imperatives.

I write, you read and you see. Any response on your part says more about you than it does me. Any response on your part also gives me an opportunity to discover something about myself if only I dare to listen. Social media is a powerful world of relationship. The moment you or I engage in a response of any kind – a smile, a “like”, a comment, a “share” or any manner of negative response such as “block” or rebuttal – a relationship and all that it entails has been activated. And with that activation, one can turn inward and “meditate” upon what it is inside that has been activated.

There is too much that can be said, so I will leave this as is for now. I hope that some of you, my readers, will have something to offer in response in the comments.

Naturism and the Inner Journey

Golden work for the soul

It’s that time of year when life as we know it begins to head south. The geese are already gorging themselves on scattered grains left over from passing combines. Frost has already paid a few visits resulting in damage and death as far as gardens are concerned. The one benefit, a psychological one, is the appearance of a vibrant display of colour on the trees and bushes. In our lives, this halfway point is coming later and later as our lifespan appears to be lengthening. When one thinks of the golden and red colours of autumn, it can symbolize those “golden” years of our lives when so many things have come to fruition. It is usually with a surge of gratitude that we enter the journey into the second half of life.

As always, there is a caveat that bares heeding during these golden years. The journey forward becomes, needs to become, an inner journey rather than just a continuation of our outward journey. The second half of life craves meaning. Unfortunately, meaning doesn’t come from building a bigger and better retirement home, or accumulating the best of everything including all the “toys” we couldn’t have while pursuing a career or raising a family, of taking as many trips to foreign places as though one was trophy hunting. Avoiding the inner journey reduces all the treasures to bitter conquests. It is difficult to find meaning in a crowd while engaged in relentless activity. As soon as one stops long enough, the shadow emerges demanding its due.

Naturism, or nudism if you prefer, can be a vehicle for that inner journey. As one casts off one’s clothing, one is casting off the demands and expectations of the outer world. The sensations that are felt turn a person towards their own body and away from things. Nature plays a vital role in this shift from “it” to “self.” When one is confronted with the real self, not the ego self that is camouflaged by clothing and the distractions of things and others, one can begin a search for the hidden self, those parts of self that have been buried over the years, denied because they got in the way.

Discarding one’s clothing is like opening a door. There still remains the choice for opening the door to the inner journey, or just being nude in the outer world. Rejecting the opened door does lead to a life filled with less personal peace for what years remain.

What are your thoughts?

Alternate Realities

Am I really there?

The forecast promised a good amount of rain today. So far, not much has shown up. One thing with the forecast that has been right is the warmer morning temperature of 12C. I got outside at 6:30 as soon as the first drops of a shower began to fall. I was hoping to capture myself being drenched with rain. Because it was still darkish, with dawn not yet arrived, I had set my camera to night mode. The result was predictably terrible as I moved while the camera was trying to gather enough light for the image. As soon as I saw this image, I knew it was not only worth saving, but that it told a story about the fleeting nature of one’s presence on planet Earth.

I then changed the camera settings and was rewarded with a normal photo which caught my presence and the darker skies. This image tells a different story. However, it didn’t capture the feeling of the light drops of rain that touched my body, or the breeze that accented the chill because I was damp. The flag did hint at the presence of a breeze as it was partially unfurled. As for the story, it perhaps tells a darker story, one that is grounded in shadows. This is what I love about photography. I never know what will emerge beyond the simple visual record of a moment in time.

Dysthymia – Naturism in Depressive Times

Low-level depression

Dysthymia.. For many, Covid19 has resulted in a persistent, low-level depression, a state of what I would call a psychic tiredness. One might have lost interest in normal daily activities, and left with a feeling of hopeless and beginning to believe that it is all pointless. One is left being less productive at work and at home. Low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy appear. Dysthymia. Look it up and you will find a more comprehensive description.

As I watch the Covid19 numbers begin to rise, perhaps suggesting that we are about to begin a dreaded second wave, I also see how the seven-month long [eight and a half months technically] pandemic has left most people I know exhausted and feeling hopeless about the near future. It was bad enough the past few years with the inundation of information about climate change and the threats to humanity’s survival. Even though the threat was a few decades distant in the future, the impact on our psyches was real. The threat of the Coronavirus is an immediate threat. Short term and long term threats to our very existence do not leave much room for enthusiasm for life.

Curiously, I have noticed that the naturists whom I have come to know, are somehow more optimistic. Though for most of them, opportunities for public and private nudity are limited, those opportunities somehow are enough to lift the mood. Moments unclothed outdoors in sunlight appear to flood the body with the captured energy of the sun’s rays, and transform those rays into buoyant life jackets of hope.

The same thing happens to me when I seize the moment to do something outside while nude. A simple thing such as watering the rose garden behind the Buddha fountain, with water saved from a bath, even though the outdoor temperature is only 5 degrees Celsius, energizes me. Being outdoors, even while clothed helps, but not to the same degree as being outdoors in sunshine while nude. With enough hours spent outdoors, my sleep is better. For me, this is vital.

For too many years I suffered from depression. At times it was so bad that I lost the will to live. And almost always, those low points were in winter when the weather did its best to confine me indoors. I rarely slept. Though I ran just about everyday, the endorphins didn’t do much to counteract the depression. It was only when I finally had a mental breakdown that I turned a corner in my life, a corner that led me to finally give my body some much needed respect. It wasn’t much to begin with, stolen moments in the sunshine where I hid from the eyes of others as I exposed myself to the rays of the sun. But it was enough. A corner had been turned.

Now, I live my life differently. Nudity is normal in my life, especially outdoors when possible. The level of depression has drastically been reduced. I am more in touch with the planet, and less imprisoned by my mind. As a result, I believe in life, in my life and the lives of those around me. I have hope that there is a light at the end of the Covid19 tunnel.

And you? How have you coped? Where is your hope?

Acclimation to the Changing Times

Toast and peanut butter breakfast

Wednesday is here, a cold Wednesday morning with another overnight frost here on the Canadian prairies. It began with a bit of sunshine which has now been banished behind some grey clouds. It is a good morning to stay inside for coffee and breakfast. The forecast is for some moderation in temperature with a high of 14 Celsius by late afternoon. There is no question that summer is done. Still, there will be sunny and warmish days ahead for me to enjoy outdoors, even while nude. It’s all a matter of acclimatising to the seasons. By the time winter is here, I will likely find that -5 Celsius will be pleasant enough for some outdoor time while nude, especially if I am busy shovelling snow.

Acclimation is the process of adjusting to new conditions such as we are facing in a world that is reeling from a pandemic. The latest news tells us that no vaccine is in the near future, a fact that forces us to come to grips with living with the coronavirus. Some of us live in”bubbles” or so we believe. The people in my town believe there are in such a bubble as no one here has had Covid19. They feel safe and basically take risks within the community because of that risk. Yet, in a modern world which includes my town, there are no isolated bubbles of safety. Too many people leave the town for all sorts of good reasons, including myself.

Though we think we are immune, our psyche tells us otherwise. We respond to that unconscious knowledge typically in two ways. We deny the fact of our vulnerability, even if it means we have to deny the threat. Covid19 deniers and anti-maskers are examples of this response to the unconscious. Logic has no room in any discussion that confronts this type of response. On the opposite pole, we have those that fearfully embrace solitary confinement. Thankfully, most of us are somewhere in the middle ground, listening to science which tells us to “limit” our risks and the risk to others by wearing a mask when in situations where we are close to others.

Maintaining social distance is not about going into isolation, but simply acknowledging that a safe space of about two metres is all that is needed, especially if we wear masks when we are unsure about the people who we come into contact with as we leave our immediate social bubble. Of course, you, my readers already know this. What we don’t often realise is that when we are out of our immediate social bubble and when we are easily able to maintain social distance, such as when out walking in a park, or at a beach, or somewhere out in nature, we don’t need to continuously wear a mask.

I don’t wear a mask when hiking in the hills or in the backyard. Neither do I wear clothing. That all changes when I am in the presence of others. If distance is maintained, the mask is kept handy but the clothing remains on my body. It’s all about common sense. However, as each of us is learning, common sense is a rare trait in humans. Of course, there are no guarantees as what we “know” is not all that much. The best we can do is the best that we can do as we acclimatise to the world that is constantly changing.

Resistance and Stubbornness

A trip to the lake

What a strange day for me as I sit in my office, bundled up against the cold. I refuse to turn on the furnace for heat since according to the calendar, it is still summer. I love being nude as much as possible, but there are limits. Despite the occasional evidence that I use common sense, I am prone to pushing my limits when it comes to nudity such as being outdoors when the weather is telling my body it needs warmth and protection. For example, this morning I saw an opportunity to get a photo of my flag in the front yard and I went for it. There was no wind and five degrees seemed doable. So, this photo got taken at 6:30 this morning. Now, looking at it, I can see that despite my will power, I was feeling the chill.

Now, I must admit that I am a stubborn man. When my wife noticed my very rare condition of having some clothing on when she returned from a morning work shift, she turned up the thermostat in the house to heat it up to a more tolerable temperature. As a result, I am now comfortably dressed in just my skin, once again. I will put on clothing when we go outside to go for a walk in the local countryside area.

Yesterday morning was just as cold, but for some reason I just didn’t feel it when I had gone to the lake to winterize my daughter’s camper. I stopped en route by the lake to get a few photos and only worried about the ants crawling into my discarded clothing. Why did I feel so much colder this morning? I imagine it had to do with waking up very early [at 4:40 AM] this morning when there was no sunlight for two hours. Then as the morning went on, still no sun appeared from behind thick cloud cover. Dreary skies have a definite physiological and psychological chilling effect on the psyche.

That is the important thing for me to remember. I often slip into thinking that the status quo will continue, that there will be sunshine for weeks to come. The burdening gloominess reminds me that I actually need time away from the sunshine in order to appreciate it better, especially as winter approaches. Here in Canada, that winter is not very far off at all. I will be forced to adjust my expectations. In preparation for the cold of winter, I will be having my fireplace renovated to burn gas instead of wood. It will look like wood burning and it will create that ambience, but without the smoke which is an allergen which has me sneeze, my nose run, and my eyes weep. I stopped burning wood in the fireplace years ago and had resorted to using a small electric heater in my office. Now, my wife suggests that I make myself a mini office by the fireplace for the winter.

Changes. They just keep coming. Change is constant, if sometimes very slow. And when one is open to changes and doesn’t get too stubborn, change is typically what is needed for the psyche. Now, I wonder, why is it that I had been so stubborn as to not take care of the fireplace issue in the past. Why did I resist turning on the central heating? Resistance to change.

How do you navigate needed change? Are you stubborn? Do you resist?

Naturist Images – Ego Versus Shadow

Warts, wrinkles and all

As a man of a certain age, and then a bit older, there is no question that all of the parts of my body aren’t in the best of physical conditions. For many, if not most of the men in the age range of 50s to … well older … virility often becomes the subject of critical focus. Let’s face it, though we can “get it up” after a fashion, there is no ability to “wow” anyone, let alone ourselves. I am approaching this subject with a bit of trepidation as almost any and every conversation that touches upon “manhood” riles up both men and women. And too often, the topic itself is prone to have too many feel that they have been invited to share their “dick” pics, usually at full mast.

In the world of naturism/nudism, there appears to be more tolerance about casual nudity that is full frontal, at least among those who self-identify as naturists/nudists. Yet, for all of that casual attitude to full-frontal male nudity, there is more that lays beneath the surface. I have noticed that images often speak for themselves. So what do the images tell the viewer? To be honest, I don’t have any answers in spite of my extensive background in psychology. The biggest reason for not being able to answer my own question is the fact that it is uniquely viewer dependent.

As readers here know, the appearance of a penis in one of my blog post images is about as far away from sexual stimulation or intent as one can find when a man’s genitals are visible. Yet, despite my objective of #NormalisingNaturism, I get sexual comments from men who would like nothing more than to engage in sexual activity with me. I know I’m not alone in this, as I have heard the same from quite a number of naturists/nudists, both male and female. Yet, I wonder about these “innocent” images. Just how innocent are we? What drives us, unconsciously, to post images of ourselves, images that don’t leave anything to the imagination? And, perhaps more importantly, why do we even take these photos or have them taken of us? Do people need or want to see us drinking tea, coffee, beer, or a glass of wine? How many times do we publicise via our images that we have gone for a walk, or a swim, or mowed the lawn?

These aren’t just a questions for men, as women who are naturists/nudists as well with images that tell stories of who we are, stories that often we are not aware of being told. Is a certain photo to record the honest fact about our body as we age? Is the photo more of a visual record for “Self” or is it to be shared with others? For example, the third image above is one with a full-frontal display. It states the facts of my skin colour, the physical tone of my body, the fact that I have purposefully groomed my body [though not why I have done so], the fact that I am indoors, and a few other similar statements. I had not thought of the image being in this blog post when it was taken. Like everyone, I don’t always have the full story as my “shadow” self has its own agenda which it doesn’t disclose very willingly to my thinking self, me “ego” self.

Besides all of that, it is just a photo. And like all photos, it doesn’t even capture the full physical story. I am not this slim as portrayed in the photo. I don’t know why the camera lies, but for my ego’s sake, I am sometimes glad it does. I mean who wants to appear at their worst?

A Warm Day Means More Nude Hiking

September free-hiking

When I woke up this morning, the sky was clear. The temperature was 7 Celsius but there was promise of more warmth, at least 22 by early afternoon. At 10:30, I found myself hiking for six and a half kms while fully nude. It wasn’t long before I scared up a covey of prairie grouse, a bird commonly known as prairie chickens. Then, I just about stepped on a large jackrabbit who decided to make a break for it in case I was hungry for rabbit.

Of course, the only interest I had in wildlife was in witnessing their presence. I didn’t even try to get photos of them. I focused on the walk, the sunshine, and the delicious warmth. The forecast for tomorrow is for even warmer temperatures before again turning cold for the weekend.

Sometime between now and Sunday evening, I have a blog post to write up for Naturist Fiction. My turn has once again rolled around. I feel privileged to have been invited to be part of the three naturist writers for this blog site. My comrades in arms are Will Forest and Paul Z Walker, two excellent writers of naturist fiction, as well as other forms of fiction and non-fiction. In my other moments of free time, I will be adding to my new story.

How is your day unfolding?

Jack Frost Paid a Visit

Last of the garden produce

It froze last night, a hard frost. It isn’t the first frost of the late summer, as we had a slight touch of frost a few weeks ago. However, this frost required us to cover most of our garden plants in an attempt to save them, especially the tomato plants. They were saved, thought they don’t look so good. There is no frost in the forecast for the next two weeks, but forecasts are not all that dependable. With this pointed reminder from Mother Nature, it is definitely time to shift one’s thinking from summer to autumn. There will be nice days to come in the near future, but they are fleeting moments of protest against the inevitable onslaught of a prairie winter.

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, the camping trailer has been sold. It took about 36 hours from mounting the advertisement to depositing the funds from the sale. There is no turning back to the past as it was anymore. By this afternoon, the sun came out and the temperature climbed up to an impressive 15 Celsius, enough to warrant spending a bit of time on the deck in the backyard to soak up some sunshine.

Tomorrow, it is a trip to the city for supplies and an oil change. It has been more than a month since our last trip to the city. I imagine it will be quite some time following tomorrow’s trip until our next such trip. There isn’t much ambition to risk spending time in a city where the risk of contacting the corona virus is significantly higher than our tiny prairie town.

On a side note, I thought I had a serious computer crash and had dug out my older computer which I had switched from Windows to Linux so that I could continue my various writing projects. Thankfully, I had backed up just about everything, Then this morning, I re-approached the salvaging of my newer laptop with the help of a techie. The results were a resounding success. The exercise left me with a sense of gratitude, both for the saving of the laptop and the realisation that if worse had come to worst, I would have lost very little in the process.

Do you save all of your files and data to an external hard-drive or to the cloud in one of its many variations? I use a variety of external sources, including the Google version of the cloud – external hard drive and a large USB flash drive. As a writer, this is a critical habit to make.

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