Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: January 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

Transparent Self, Naked Self, Self-Disclosure

Risking being seen by others

Others, like myself who choose to see themselves beneath their clothing, are risking so much with the acts of disrobing and being naked. Are we really being ourselves? It is as if we have set aside the filters that have been coded into our lives as we grew up into adulthood. Many are in search of self. How often do we hear grown adults state that they need time to find themselves? Typically, that search for self is a journey that only leads further and further from the intended destination of self-discovery. As well, we often find ourselves on the outs with the larger society for what we discover about ourselves.

Over the years, as I have studied and worked with human psychology, I have come to realise that most people really don’t want to do the work of self-discovery, regardless of their claims otherwise. Most people simply want to be fixed so that they fit better with the social world around them. They want to think, feel, want, and do only those things that will allow them to be more accepted, perhaps even loved. Yet, every so often, that isn’t enough. For these people in the minority, and they are a minority, the imperative “Know Thyself!” becomes a quest. That journey begins with self-disclosure. becoming transparent to the self and to others.

“Through my self-disclosure, I let others know my soul. They can know it, really know it, only as I make it known. In fact, I am beginning to suspect that I can’t even know my own soul except as I disclose it. I suspect that I will know myself “for real” at the exact moment that I have succeeded in making it known through my disclosure to another person.”

Sidney M. Jourard, The Transparent Self, p. 10

Jourard talks about self-disclosure from a psychological perspective. That psychological journey is also a social journey if it is to be authentic. At the present time, in the midst of a global pandemic which has so many of us sticking within the confines of our individual lodgings, the opportunity to let others see/know/feel the truth of our individual souls is problematic. Thankfully, there is a cyber world where we can virtually be present with others. That cyber world allows for us to be seen and heard. What we disclose in this cyber world doesn’t allow for full disclosure as the conveyance of feeling is very, very weak.

When one removes one’s clothing and risks being seen as imperfect beings, there is an honesty that words can never match for words can easy become masks behind which we hide, just as we hide behind our clothing, or the roles we live in the world. However, images are only as honest as we allow them to be. For example, How does one disclose an underlying fear or emotion or belief that we don’t want revealed? In my case, in the face-to-face world, I smile. I adopt an equanimous state that masks self-doubt. In the case of Robin Williams, a mask of laughter hid a deep sadness that eventually resulted in his self-destruction.

It is only with the passage of time, that one gets to know another well enough to risk disclosing more of oneself. And it is only with this passage of time and taking these risks that one discovers more and more about oneself. It’s a catch 22 situation which few people hesitate to enter into. Getting naked in front of others is easier than risking authentic self-disclosure. And so here, I find myself wondering about nude images of self as authentic self-disclosure versus nude images of self as yet another mask behind which the true self remains hidden. And, I now invite you to share your thoughts about the naked self and self-disclosure.

Naturist Lives in the Balance

In the midst of creation

The title sounds a bit ominous, however it is true, naturist lives are in the balance and I am the one who will be responsible for all of it. Naturally, I am referring to the latest novel I am writing. It’s not all black and white as I sit in judgment of a number of the characters in the story, there are definitely shades of gray as I ponder the fate of these people who have become part of my world. After all, I am like both a mother and a father for each of these figures, or perhaps some sort of mythological deity who sits blindfolded on a rock holding a scale for the souls of each of my characters.

As I mentioned previously, I have a work-in-progress that features aliens from the planet Azul who are on a secret mission for the United Federation on planet Earth. Somehow, and I don’t take the blame for this, I have what I feel are too many characters in the story, something that might make for the story to be a hard read. As well, their existence might make for a story that becomes too long, too complicated. So, if I am to rectify this situation, I will have to go back and erase them from the story. I can already hear their protests as if I am like Saint Michael weighing their souls on a balance and condemning some to the flames. It is heart breaking. Yet, what is an author to do?

Coffee is definitely a necessity when engaged in this bloody work. Fire is also a necessity. If I were to print out the story as it now stands, the pages containing the soon to be exorcised characters would be burnt like some heretic in the Spanish Inquisition. What a heartless bastard I must be to be so cruel. Putting my feelings aside, I examine each character like a jeweler studies the precious stones in a shop through the exacting lens of a jeweler’s loupe.

Perhaps I will wait, drink a lot of wine and shed tears for the sacrificed lives that will surely come in the days ahead. Being an author is no trifling matter. After all, their are naturist lives in my story in the balance.

Monday, Monday – So Good To Me

In the early morning light

Monday morning and I’m still nude. Just before nine this morning, the first light began to appear in our dining room with its east-facing window. It’s another cold day, just slightly colder than yesterday. Though the calendar tells me that a new week started yesterday, in reality for almost everyone, it is Monday when a week starts. After all, both Saturday and Sunday are included in the term, week-end.

So, what is it about this Monday that suggests something new coming my way? This morning I received a message from the Irish Naturist Association requesting that I become a member of a short-story selection jury. Since I have no pressing engagements, other than finalising the print edition for Romance in the Nudist Colony, and continuing with the writing of my latest Naturist Novel, I answered in the affirmative.

The Irish Naturist Association had advertised its literary contest with entries due in by Christmas Day of 2020. It appears that I am to be a last-minute addition to the jury which is comprised of some notable personalities. How the Irish Naturist Association came across my name and my background as a writer and publisher, is an unknown. It is a new role for me, being on a jury charged with determining a winning piece of literature.

Now, back to my ongoing saga, a tale about aliens from the planet Azul [Azulians] who are being sent by the Interstellar United Federation to positively influence the political situation on the planet Earth with the objective of having the Earth become a member of the Federation. The story is complicated because the Azulians are blue-skinned [the word Azul is Spanish for blue] and the task is against Federation policy of non-involvement on planets which are not yet space-faring people and ready for alien contact. I have reached a point in the story where the aliens are about to land on the planet, 18,500 words into the story. There is a level of complexity to the secretive task that suggests that this could be a very long story. The role of nudity should end up becoming significant in terms of conflict and political evolvement, as most alien races don’t have the same hang ups about nudity as is the norm on Earth.

I can’t tell you much more, as I don’t know much more. I can say that I am enjoying this tale immensely. Is it really science fiction? Is it really naturist fiction? Or is it more classical literature that explores the human psyche? Only time will reveal that to me, and eventually to you, the future readers of the story.

A Naturist’s Trip Down Memory Lane

By the warmth of a blazing hearth

It’s Sunday morning on the Canadian prairies. As I write up this post, it is still dark with dawn more than an hour away. The temperature outside is -26C, with a wind chill that makes it feel like -38C. Now, that is cold. However, I am toasty warm as I sit in my rocking chair in front of the fireplace writing this post. For those who might be interested, I found this rocking chair in 1976, in a northern community. The rocker was in a few pieces with broken runners, so the owner sold it to me for only $5. The rocker was old, very old. I repaired the rocker and often think of the old trapper who sold it to me. He died that winter and I was the one who wrote up his memorial as an editorial in the newspaper. Now forty-five years later I am surprised at how it is often the little things that have the most meaning.

I looked back into my photo collection from that time and found photos that tell me that even back then, nudity was a valuable part of my life as a father and husband. It was a time of no social media. The nudity wasn’t taken to be shared with others, but as a record of who we were as a young family. We camped in the northern wilderness beside rivers and lakes, usually finding time to be free of clothing, especially when we were in the water. The remoteness of our camping experiences, and the sanctity of home meant that there was no outside influences to shutter these moments of pure freedom. There were no, “what if” moments to deal with. The odd photo that was taken was more about a passion for photography as an artist than about documentation. That passion hasn’t gone.

Naked Poetry series

Other than my books of Naked Poetry, an odd photo taken for a photography exhibit in gallery, as well as a collection of three photos above our bed, I have refrained from displaying nude images of my wife. They weren’t taken for public consumption. Those found in the poetry books were taken deliberately for those three books and used with permission.

That’s the thing about waking up in darkness and sitting by a fire – memories, good memories come bubbling to the surface.

Give Peace a Chance

Bob Dylan

It’s a bright and sunny day with minus temperatures and strong winds. It is cold, cold, cold outside. At least the sunshine pours in and tries to persuade me that it would be a wonderful time to go outside for a walk. However, I can see the outdoor thermometer, as well as seeing the flag in front of the house whipping madly about. There is definitely a strong wind of change blowing.

I used to be a folk musician many decades ago, singing songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They are a-Changin’,” by Bob Dylan. I was a teenager singing songs of protest and freedom during the era of the Vietnam War [known as the American War in Vietnam], the Flower Children, and the awakening of the will to live on planet we vowed to protect. I wore long hair, played six and twelve-string guitars, wore sandals and moccasins, and wrote newspaper editorials about saving the land and its people. I was an idealistic young man.

That young man didn’t disappear. What has changed is my body which now shows evidence of seven decades of living. The idealism didn’t disappear. Rather, the hole in my heart that gave rise to my protest about the way things were, has enlarged. A second hole in my heart was healed as I left life as a solitary folksinger and became a husband in 1971. Two months later, having settled into a new way of being, John Lennon wrote and released, “Imagine.” I imagined all sorts of things, I even dared to imagine myself as a father and teacher, dreams that time would fulfil.

Today, in the sunshine and the wind, another change is unfolding. A new president in the USA is to take his place with a woman to serve as his vice-president. The hopes of 80+ million people who voted for him are being realised. The hopes of hundreds of millions around the world are being uplifted at the same time. And more importantly, the shadowy figures that were gnawing away at the collective soul of humanity, are slithering back into the shadows, at least for a while. “Give Peace a Chance.”

The Pull of Social Media

Musings with coffee by the fireplace

I have now finished Chapter 4 of my current work in progress, the story of aliens who are trying to to help save planet Earth. Also keeping me busy are two types of Twitter users whom I am busy in blocking. I have no need to see or hear from “haters” and “porn hounds.” I find it strange that Twitter suggests that all those whom I block are registered as those who have unfollowed me. However, I could care less about follower numbers. I have more than my fair share of people I follow who are naturists, centrists, and authors. I don’t think for a moment that those I block from following me are going to be better people who will try to make a positive difference in the lives of fellow humans. I just don’t need them in my on-line life.

In spite of my good intentions, I continue to find myself checking out Twitter, hoping that some positive flow of information. Despite my purging so many negative voices, there continues to be a flood of hate messages. Politics and politicians are at the centre of the the conversation with naturism only appearing at the fringes, mostly with like-minded individuals offering small messages encouraging each other to stay strong and to stay naked. As a result, I have decided to simply sit still and listen. It’s not the time for me to weigh in on very important psychological considerations.

That said, it’s time for my to turn back to my work in progress.

A Shifting of the Naturist Ground

Disequilibrium. It’s a thing. With so many certainties in life now in question, all of us are is some sort of free fall, whether we realise it or not. The first big shock to our system, our psyche, was the appearance of Covid19. In early January of 2020, my wife and I made our typical winter getaway to a warm, tropical climate almost on the equator. The first hints of Covid19 in the news seemed to be just another item on the constantly changing news cycles. Sun, warmth, surf and sand filled our days, I took advantage of the opportunities that presented themselves to experience more seaside and casa nudity than usual. Little did either of us know that we wouldn’t be able to stay for our full three months, that we would be facing lockdowns, stay-in-place orders that would deny us access to the beach, curfews, and the need to be repatriated to our home country. Covid19 shook us more than the strong earthquakes which rocked our casa the previous winter in Ecuador.

Back home, a two-week quarantine followed by strict social distancing became both a trial and a blessing. Being nude in my home and backyard and on little-used country trails increased from the previous norm. Reports from the outside world told me that home nudity was increasing and that memberships in various naturist organisations were increasing. However, social nudity was close to non-existent, at least for those whom I knew. Social distancing was still in effect. I didn’t have to worry about unexpected visitors appearing in the house while I had abandoned clothing. My nudity became more and more normal. It became a summer with more naturist hikes than I had previously experienced.

And then the USA election happened. The politics in my home country reverberated with the same tensions that split America in half. The extreme right gathered more into their fold. The longer Covid19 went on, the more people began to buy into the conspiracy theories. And almost at the same time, the second wave of Covid19 began to sweep through the world. Anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-government, anti-diversity, anti everything that wasn’t the domain of the white, Christian, right wing world took centre stage. The stewing of this toxic presence erupted ten days ago with a real assault on democracy in the name of “freedom.” The assault is far from over. The freedom in question, is the freedom to be oppressive, spewing messages of hate, and denying any but the chosen their rights, their personal freedoms.

Put together, these two elements appearing at the same time were more than enough to turn the world upside down. Now, we have a new wave of disruption occurring at the level of individuals. Dialogue has been replaced with disengaged monologue, or with unreasoned verbal assaults. At the same time we see the dark side of individuals displayed, voices that fill social media in hopes of silencing those who remain hopeful and speak their truths. Social platforms are suspending accounts for sometimes what amounts to trying to appease the angry voices who have gained ascendency. And yet?

There is another side of the scale that is trying to right the balance. From a naturist point of view, I am talking about people who remain standing [or sitting in quiet meditation] who are more sure of themselves, their self-identity, and what is important. And, we have remained hopeful.

And that is the key. Spring will appear following the cold and darkness of winter. Summer will follow the spring. What is now will fade into “what was.” As long as we continue to stand in hope, we will keep our sanity and avoid being dragged into darkness and the mob that embraces all that is negative and hate. Be the light. Hold your candle of hope, high. Know that as long as you believe in yourself, despite what happens, you will remain free. Viktor Frankl proved this as he survived three years in a Nazi concentration camp, surviving while others around him were swallowed by the angry maw of those dark times. Mind over matter.

A Naturist Retreat to Higher Ground

Emma – going to ground

Well, I guess that “change” just had to happen. My friend Emma has had her Twitter account suspended because of an innocent photo that didn’t break any Twitter community rules. However, someone, or some group had complained loud enough to appease those angry, hate-inspired voices. Yet, all manner of porn remains freely available for viewing on Twitter. You name your porn poison and it can be readily found. I have reported and blocked hundreds of these porn accounts with very few ever being suspended. It is the way it is, and Emma is taking a sabbatical of sorts from Twitter. In her last blog post, Going to Ground, Emma stated: “I’m going to ground for a while, to focus on the elements which actually matter in real life. Once I’ve addressed everything I have to do, I’m sure you will be seeing me again but for time being, I’m conserving my energy and assigning time to the things and people, I regard as important.” I take that to mean that she is retreating to Higher Ground.

I have decided to use a “watermark” to make use of the photos I post here, more difficult for others to download and put into porn sites. Yes, some of my photos have made it to porn sites, the “daddy” porn service industry adds any and all nude images of older men for a clientele that “gets off” with those kind of images. Makes a person wonder just how sad it is that other men salivate at the thought of hairy older men. I know that I am being judgemental, but there, I said it. At least my images will be more easily identified as stolen and less likely to serve as an invitation.

There are a number of others in the naturist community that are now using watermarks to protect their images. However, more than protecting these images, the watermarks serve as a way to indicate to the viewer that the images are not porn, for porn loves anonymity. Porn is all about fantasy. Watermarks are an element of taking the higher ground. It requires more effort and thought.

On a side note, I wonder if the recent political state of affairs in Europe and North America has resulted in more of us taking a stand on principles, taking the higher road, rather than acquiescing into silence. Silence gives tacit approval even if there is no approval. The backlash when allowing one’s voice to be heard is swift, and often brutal. It would be so easy to escape that backlash by simply staying silent. But then again, if everyone kept silent, those extremist groups become the only voice which becomes amplified by Main Stream Media and social media platforms. What is the high ground when it comes to dealing with the forces that seek to rip apart the very fabric of democracy?

Nude Surrounded by Doom and Gloom

Taking out the recycle trash

The sky looks gloomy. Rather, I should say that I feel a sense of gloominess when looking at the overcast sky. Words matter. I talked about that yesterday. Listening to the news, reading the endless stream of Tweets and posts on social media suggests that the sun has become absent in most places on planet Earth. It makes a person want to load up all the bots and trolls and dump them into the trash bin.

It didn’t take me long to say “Enough is enough” and switch gears. As a writer, that is one of my strengths, changing channels. As many of my readers know, I have multiple writing projects on the go at one time. Well, I have just added a new project, a hardcover storybook for my granddaughter who will be turning four in six weeks.

For the past few days, I have been going through my photo archives to include in the story book. Now with the photos chosen, I did a test run with using 65 lb paper to serve as the pages. I set the document on landscape with two columns. Then, using the first two photos that will begin the story, which I placed in opposite columns, I added story text and then did a test printout of that page. It worked well. I will prepare the rest of the story the same way. Then, I will glue the pages together to form thicker pages, just right for a four-year old’s hands. It has been a good beginning.

Then my poor attention span has me once again returning to social media in hopes of seeing some sunlight, the visible proof that people are becoming more aware of the collective shadow that is gnawing away at our humanity. Well, that didn’t last long. Humanity is in trouble. I think of a drug addict and know that there is no hope to change the channel until our modern world has hit rock bottom. There is no room for dialogue when no one cares to listen, really listen to the voices of others. Still, I add in my voice pleading others to embrace kindness and compassion. I end up preaching to the choir and having the others rail. Again, enough is enough.

Next, I turned to a naturist story that is in process. So far, 7,000 words have been written. The story follows a group of six aliens, a heterosexual couple, a lesbian couple, and two brothers who have been living on the planet Earth for eight years. The group gets recalled to an outpost base on the moon from where they are to travel to Europa for another project. Naturally, things will get in the way. In their natural state they are always nude with only lanyards and armbands to serve as symbols of office and rank. I would like to present you with a snippet of the story where the six are on a shuttle from the Earth to a lunar base. Two “cadets” are curious about the six who are famous in their own right.

~

“My name is Bets and this is Les. We are more than honoured to meet the six of you. And yes, the six of you are famous. We’ve all heard of your stories. You and your work is part of the course work at the lunar university for Earth Studies.”

Jori moved gracefully as she floated closer to Bets and Les and said, “Join us for a meal. I hear the meal packages have improved since the last time we were on a shuttle.”

Everyone laughed. Shuttle food was designed for nutrition, not for taste or texture. One chose a meal with little hope that the name would match the contents. Paste was paste. Spices could only do so much. The squeeze bottles of liquid were much more preferable, especially alcoholic beverages.

It didn’t take long for the eight of them to feel comfortable with their new acquaintances. Maddie told the young cadets about music and fashion.

“Do humans actually buy into the need to constantly change the style of their clothing?” asked Les.

“Yes, they do. One set of clothes barely gets used before they think they need a more modern set of outfits. It’s irrational, and economically and environmentally wasteful. But for the women, a positive self image is intimately tied to having the latest colours and styles of clothing as dictated by the fashion industry, even if they are ugly and uncomfortable.”

“That sounds so sad.”

~

There, the sun is peeking out and my mood shifts as a smile appears.

Naked Ennui

Winter outside the window

It is early morning, very early. There are lights in the window across the street from the lodging of a man who is older than myself. Lights on are no guarantee that he is awake. I turned on my strings of red lights to counteract the darkness that marks the early morning hours of winter on the Canadian prairies. Despite the sad state of the world at this point in time, I had a good sleep. Getting a good sleep is nothing to be sneezed at. I have too often woke up in the morning more tired than when I went to bed because sleep was a hit and miss affair throughout the night hours. I don’t take naps during the day and not because of some sort of guilt or resistance. I have tried, but when the sun is up, even when it is overcast, my body refuses the offered opportunities.

At least I am naked, whether I am tired, listless. I did a quick Google search and found this: “Are you tired, so tired of everything about the world and the way it is? Do you proclaim this, with a long, slow sigh, to everyone around you? You’ve got ennui.” Despite what the English language dictionaries want to tell us, ennui isn’t just about boredom. It’s a French word with a broader definition, one that the above quote comes close to recognising.

I am tired with regards to Covid19. I am tired with the BS of Canadian politics that wants to drag people into divisiveness and hate of others who are different. I am tired of the war of words that erupts into violence all over the world. I am tired of those who are so invested in protecting their wallets that they have no time to protect the world and fellow humans. That tiredness isn’t about boredom, not in the least. That tiredness is more about the scope and breadth of the issues that are raging all over the modern world, and one’s inability to make much of a difference. I watch as extended family and acquaintances horde and scapegoat women, people of colour, the homeless, basically anyone who might shame them into doing the right thing. And the feeling that emerges isn’t boredom. The English language doesn’t really have a word for this. So, as a French-Canadian, I accept the non-English concept of ennui to describe how I feel.

Language is a problem in communication. I learned the concept of “negotiated” meaning when I began work on my Master’s program thirty years ago. Though we share the same language, perhaps with both sides limited to that one language, we can’t assume that the words spoken or written are heard/read in a manner that has both share the same understanding. It the world of social media, there is a tendency to have sound bites without careful dialogue to sort out the meaning and intent of the words used. And then, we wonder why others get angry at our words which were never intended to inspire anger.

Words are powerful. Words incite. Words tame. Words attack. Words confuse. Words embrace … When we speak and write, we have an intention, we assume that others can infer our intended message from the words we use. In the world of social media, the face-to-face component of communication exacerbates the problem. Missing are the barely perceptible body cues that add meaning to words, sometimes contradicting the words themselves. Even silences have communicated meaning that need to be decoded via negotiation.

Left to our own inner dialogues that have almost everything to do with our unique life experiences, as well as our unconscious complexes, we create meaning based on “self.”

“This is what I heard her say” is followed up with a personal take that rarely has anything to do with the intended message. And the war is on where neither side can “hear” the words of the “other.” Lines are drawn in the sand leaving both parties convinced of the “wrongness” of the other person in the “conversation.” And once that happens, it is so hard, often too hard, to step back and ask legitimate questions to clarify what was meant with the original statement. For that to happen, both sides have to be willing to let go of what they hold as self-evident truths. Without that, there is no “dialogue” where both parties through negotiation arrive at a mutual understanding. It’s a lot of work. It’s easier to retreat into conflict knowing that you are right and that the other is wrong, that you have “god on your side.”

So now, we find ourselves as individuals, shaken to the core by the recent events in the USA and by the Covid19 pandemic. Where and how, do we dare to engage with each other to negotiate peace? It begins with listening and asking authentic questions, laying aside assumptions. There is no other way.

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