Nu comme le jour où je suis né

Month: June 2021

In Transit – The Naked Journey

In transit somewhere along a life’s journey.

My life and your life are journeys. Regardless of whether or not we are wearing clothing, the core of who we are beneath any camouflage, is a naked self. That is the centre. Anything that we might grasp at and seek to possess doesn’t erase the truth that possessions are not significant for the journey. Our experiences, the stuff that we often try to concretise with photographs, have one purpose. They serve to allow our psyche to become better aware of oneself.

The scene in my photo shows the wall of photographs that shows the “wanderings” of the last fifteen years. It’s impressive in terms of a scorecard, if that is important. However for me, it is more of an invitation to go in search of those places not yet experienced, more like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. The hallway is symbolic of the journey, the corridor through time with a light at the end which invites one to enter the light and be at home. I have turned away from the light that would signal an end to the journey. I am not ready. There is so much more of the world to see, so many people with whom I might have a chance encounter that would allow me to discover more of the mystery of my own being, let alone the mystery of who they are.

As much as we might try to deny it, each of us is at the centre of the universe. We can’t escape being at the centre though we may try desperately to stand at the sidelines and let the light of others shine brightly, denying our own light. Our individual journey doesn’t have an end that has a certificate issued at the end like some sort of report card and final evaluation. There is only the endless journey of experiences with others, the environment, and our hidden selves. Fear, love, doubt, anger, joy, indifference, pain, ecstasy – all of it touches something deep within and uncovers a bit more of what we don’t know about ourselves, even if we are not fully conscious yet of what that is. We are bigger that we know.

How we view others is a mirror of what we deny about ourselves. We deny most of ourselves, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Unconsciously our unknown self is projected. If there is any feeling response to another person, something inside of us has been activated. We get angry at some abuse committed by another person and vilify that person. We stand up taller and righteously as better when in truth, that same darkness lies within each of us. There is no atrocity that our unknown inner self is capable of committing. And the same goes for when we adore others. They appear to be what we wish we could be as we then push ourselves downwards as lesser. Yet, that inner self has that same aspect. We would not recognise any way of being if it wasn’t already encoded within us as a part of our self.

The journey of life isn’t about escaping darkness in a quest of perfection. It is about stripping down to the basic core of who we are and accepting, unconditionally the truth of who we are. We are all perpetually hungry, a hunger that no food or drink has ever been able to satiate. We are hungry for knowing who we are beneath our clothing and our limited awareness of self.

Nudity and Sexuality

Emma in between sets of clothing – undressed.

Nudity and sexuality. I know that many, many people are loathe to put the words nudity and sexual together. If this were about religion, that would be a mortal sin, one that would condemn one to the deepest pits of whatever hell one could imagine. Now, one of these states doesn’t automatically assume the other. After all, just being clothing free doesn’t mean that there is a sexual desire or sexual intent, It might simply mean just being naked. There is nothing simple about it as our minds are complex things. For example, we all change our clothing which necessitates the removal of all clothing and then replacing the items with more clothing. That moment when we are in between … at that moment we are naked, nude … and there is little question that is unlikely to be taken as a sexual act or sexual provocation.

However, even that is not so cut and dried. Human minds are, as I said, complex. What any of us thinks while in the in between zone is also a factor. At times, there is an “intent” in the choice of clothing that turns the scene into a sexual experience. I don’t know what Emma was thinking about while she goes through her drawers of clothing, choosing various items, only she would know that. So, I am left assuming a non-sexual situation. However, that is me. Others might simply see a nipple or some curves and for them, it becomes a sexual image. It’s all in the mind, isn’t it.

Another scene, a person in a shower. Washing. It’s pretty mundane and purposeful. However, sometimes the streams of water awaken something, even if momentarily, to remind a person that they are sexually alive, a delicious feeling. And then it fades as the business of washing up continues.

Emma – This is me! For me! And I will share or not.

The point is, we are sexual beings. We have an innate need for connection with others, even if that need is barely registering on the radar. Curiously, the person who is most involved in this whole business of sexuality is the self. Another image of Emma, quite different from the first one, is decidedly sexual. The strange thing is, one doesn’t see anything other that scattered patches of skin, yet there is no mistaking the pose. Still, that isn’t to say much of anything. If there was no viewer, it doesn’t change anything … or does it? Is it about the viewer or about the photographer or the subject of the image [often one and the same person]. Despite all of this, I have no doubts that the image and the intent has a sexual impulse, a revelling in one’s own sexuality.

That’s okay. After all, we are sexual beings. We all have some libido, even if it barely registers in our opinion. It has nothing to do with our belief systems or our intentions. Whether or not there is nudity involved is irrelevant. People fall in love, lust, and misbehave when the object of their attention is clothed. In fact, what we buy to wear accentuates the natural sexual needs at a subconscious level. We make a ourselves handsome or beautiful without thinking about it. Yet, we as a society, are blind to what we do and why we do it. Rather, we project our stuff on others and blame them. Our desires and our needs are there whether there is nudity or not.

As for myself, I don’t pretend that I don’t find myself drawn to certain women. In my world, there is little to no chance that I would ever see these women naked, and that is okay. This sense of being drawn to someone does not give my permission to act on that. It does, however, give me something to think about regarding myself. With all of that said, what do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Naked Hiking Day

Free-hiking on the prairies

So, apparently June 21st is Naked Hiking Day. I for one will not be going hiking on the twenty-first. I have other things to attend to for the day. Besides, any day is a naked hiking day when the weather and opportunity presents itself. Today was my fourth such hiking day. Personally, I am not in favour of having June 21st as Naked Hiking Day. The day is already packed with meaning as the summer solstice. And for me, the day is also Canada’s National Aboriginal Day. Enough said, now back to naked hiking, or as I prefer to call it free hiking.

Why “free”? Free of clothing is an obvious answer, but it isn’t the whole of it. Besides, as you can see in the image, not all of the clothing is absent. I was wearing socks, proper shoes [not always the case] and a hat. Should I count the watch? Likely yes, as we say “wearing a watch.” The same goes for glasses. That leaves one to either conclude that this is not about being free of all clothing. For myself, it comes down to a “feeling.” I love being barefoot and bareheaded but sometimes that isn’t a good plan. I live in semi desert country and there are too many dangers with walking with bare feet. Think cacti and sharp rocks and other objects that would do harm. The road to get to the wild prairie hills is laced with many sharp rocks. It is rare to find anyone walking. If not in a truck, there is the odd person who makes their way into the hills with an all-terrain vehicle. I’ve never met a solitary person out walking regardless of hiking footwear or barefoot.

The hat? Think of an endless sky, unbroken by clouds and the sun working hard to cook the earth. Remember, this is semi-desert country. Hats are protective and not a fashion statement. It would be different if I was in a different part of the world where being bare headed wasn’t an invitation to heat stress.

The watch? Truth be told, I rarely wear a watch. This watch is a Garmin. It tracks where, when, how long, the terrain, and a host of other information I ignore. I use the watch to record my distance for the most part since I can’t measure distance any other way when wandering up and down hills, across wild grasslands, or along the edges of farmed fields. I don’t have to do this, and often I don’t. However, sometimes it is good to know. Most times I don’t wear the watch.

Typically, when the weather is hot and I want to walk further, I take a backpack and my trekking poles. Water goes into the backpack along with my shorts and my top. Sometimes I even pack a small bag of nuts and raisins. Of course, my phone and wallet and car keys are also included if I have had to drive to a starting location, something I have to do if I want it to be a “free” hike.

Free is a feeling. The stride, the focus, the placing of one foot in front of the other without any thought intruding. In a way, it is my preferred way to meditate. I leave my monkey mind aside when the kilometres role by and the only thing that one has to be mindful of is the surface where one’s next step will be placed. Any idea of activism has vanished. Hiking is just the self and the environment.

Now, not all hiking while clothing free is free-hiking. Sometimes it is a social event. That is completely different. I do love walking with others. Okay, enough of this. I invite you to find a time and place for you to walk unencumbered of clothing. The experience is incredible.

Why Do We Put Up Statues?

Fountain of Neptune in Bologna, Italy

I have to admit that when I travel, I take a lot of photos of statues. A few of my most favourite statues that I got up close and personal with and took photos were Neptune in Bologna, Italy and The Thinker in Paris, France. There has yet to be a country and/or city that I have visited that hasn’t had a number of statues to be admired. I am sure you have likely noticed the same thing, You may have also noticed that so many of those statues had nude subjects – gods and goddesses seem to be the number one choice. However, more and more modern statues with nude subjects are about ordinary people though not any particular person. In my yard, I have two Buddhas – not nudes though both have little in the way of clothing as they meditate in the garden. I would like to put in a few classical nude statues, but in truth there is little room in my small yard.

Garden statue

Other statues usually depict a man who is important in historical terms. You can’t rewrite history, but what we put up as statues tells others more about us and our beliefs and value system than it does about history. An example: a statue of Hitler or any other historical person who is more infamous than famous. By putting up such a statue, we give honour to that personage. By taking it down, we aren’t cancelling history or culture, we are choosing not to celebrate it. If one is creating a walk that has every president of the USA in bronze, then it is important to include all of the past presidents. But that aside, there isn’t any person past or present that I want in my garden. I am all about ideas such as children or an old man and woman.

That said, it would be kind of neat to have oneself as a statue. The real problem would be to choose which version of oneself that one would have carved in stone or cast in bronze. For myself, I’d rather not deal with that thought at all. I’d rather play it safe and have a statue that has a message rather than honour a particular person. And of course, I’d want the statue to have a nude body that was less perfect – a slight paunch for both male and female, wrinkles and or scars, faces that aren’t perfectly symmetrical – the anyman-anywoman.

Would you put a statue in your yard or home? If there was no objection from another person, especially a significant other, nor a matter of cost, what if any statue would you commission?

When The Mind Skips From Being Present to Imminent Future

Free-hiking

What a beautiful day to go for a walk in the hills. I had it all planned out. Camera, tripod, backpack, water, shirt and shorts of course. I also had my cellphone and wallet with me as I took my truck to a point about 16 kilometres from my small prairie town – eleven kilometres west and five south. I pulled up to a row of grain bins about a kilometre off the main grid. There was no action in the nearby fields – no farmer out spraying for weed. Parking my truck beside the bins, the shirt went into the backpack and my shorts were tucked onto one of the shoulder straps of my backpack. The tripod was tied onto the outside of the small daypack with the DSLR camera tucked inside the backpack along with a bottle of water and the shirt. It was then that I noticed that I didn’t have any hiking shoes or running shoes on my feet. All I had on were thin clog-like footwear. I shrugged and decided that I should at least walk a short distance in them rather than return back to my house and try again another day. My footwear is the same as these for the most part.

Well, by the time I had gone two kilometres to reach the end of what could pass for a road, I decided that I could try going further following the hint of a trail through the hills that lay ahead. At the 4 1/4 kilometre mark, my usual turn around point at the top of a hill with two antique pieces of field machinery, I stopped for a couple of photos and for half of my water, and to simply enjoy the incredible feeling of the sun on my body. I had no issues with my feet and had even forgotten that I wasn’t wearing hiking footwear.

On the way back to reach the dirt road, I stopped three times to take photos with flowers. At the gate area [the gate has been gone for years] I noticed that my shorts were not hanging from their usual place. For a moment I thought I would have to return tomorrow to retrace my route to find them. But then I had some doubts. What if I needed them on the dirt road to reach the grain bins because a farmer had arrived to do some spraying? How would I get from my truck to the house with no shorts on? The questions told me that I needed to retrace my route.

I walk-jogged the full two and a half kilometres back to the turn-around point where I found the shorts laying on the ground. Then, with them tightly grasped in my hand, I walk-jogged back to where I had left my backpack and camera. A eight and a half kilometre hike had turned into a thirteen and a half kilometre hike. Back at the truck, I quickly stashed everything in side of it and began the drive back to my place. Three kilometres left to go, I stopped the truck to put on the pair of shorts. At that point, I noticed that the bottoms of my feet were hot and tender. They weren’t meant for hiking and jogging. I wonder if I will be able to go hiking tomorrow? If I can, I hope I can remember to keep my head focused on staying present long enough to grab the right footwear.

Sky Clad Therapy? Psychological Naturist? Or … ?

Maybe I should blame this post on the weather as it is a gloomy morning here on the Canadian prairies. Today’s post is different from my usual run-of-the-mill posts, more introspective and perhaps even critical. The weather certainly does have a tendency to have a person withdraw within where sunshine has the tendency to have a person leave the protective shell to engage with the outer world.

As some of you may know, I have a history with mental-health issues. However, I don’t want to get into those issues here other than to perhaps serve as a warning that a trigger or two may lay in the words to come. Rather, I want to focus on the present. As a person with a significant background in psychology, which includes teaching psychology and being a part-time mental health counsellor over a number of decades, you would think that by the age of seventy-plus I would have my shit together. Sadly, that’s not the case. Saying that, I have to add that I am mostly in a decent place, and that I am not at risk as was the case decades ago. Likely, there is no cure for a fractured psyche.

The Covid19 pandemic must also be figured into the mix. Like everyone else, life had been turned upside down because of Covid19. Unlike most people, the need to be socially distant has not been a hardship for me with the exception of not being able to see my grandchildren and adult children for too many months. I am an introvert. People overwhelm me at times. Even playing with my grandchildren and socialising with my children and their spouses wears me out leaving me exhausted at the end of each day.

So much for the background material. Now, it’s time to get into the main subject matter. Sky Clad Therapy? Is there really such a thing? In my personal circumstances, I can honestly answer “Yes!” However, I am a realist and know that for most people, the answer would be a resounding “No! No! No! Are you out of your freaking mind?” I know at an academic level that there is evidence that nudity does help some people deal with some of their mental-health issues. Maslow said as much and one of his followers, Paul Bindrim led a number of experimental group therapy efforts where nudity in a pool was a requirement. Other psychologists also tried to incorporate nudity as a tool to help the healing process. Aileen Goodson, author of Therapy, Nudity and Joy has gathered a significant number of other efforts to affirm that for some, nudity helps with the healing process. As a former mental-health practitioner I quickly learned that each client had unique needs regardless of the wounding they had suffered to bring them to counselling. There is no one-size-fits-all therapy model. So yes, Sky Clad Therapy is real.

On one of my trips to my home naturist campground, my significant other accompanied me. It didn’t take her long to note that it appeared that everyone at the site seemed to be wounded in some way, a fact that helped her understand what I had been telling her. She is not a nudist by any stretch of the imagination but is also not closed-minded. She knows first hand that nudity is a vital part of why I have been able to become a healthier person. Periodic attempts on my part to shelve nudity in an attempt to fit better into a normal textile world always end up in various stages of failure with her saying, “Take of your damned clothes.” Now, as many of my readers know, I push boundaries when I am nude, but that is a different issue for a different time.

Now, what about a psychological naturist? Why do I focus on the psychology of naturism? To be honest, Psychology had nothing to do with naturism for me back in the eighties and nineties when I was adding yet another degree to my CV. As an educator, I often found myself counselling some of my students. Most teachers find themselves cast into the role of untrained counsellors, so that wasn’t something strange. However, I didn’t want to just wing it based on intuition. Of course, nothing studied at the university or in follow up courses at training institutes or in other certificate programs had anything about naturism as a healing strategy. But, on consideration of our collective society, this wasn’t something too surprising. Even today, though many are now trying to normalise naturism, mainstream psychology keeps a healthy distant from its dubious past. So why do I combine psychology and naturism? Is it just about me and trying to justify who I am?

Good questions, but the most important question that is hounding me at present is “Why not just give up this whole nudity thing and make your life so much easier?” So why don’t I? Why don’t I just delete the nude photos in my archives and all my social media presence as a naturist? Why does this blog site even exist? What’s the point? I mean, it would make my partner’s life that much easier and that has to count for something. As well, it would remove some stress on my neighbours who have to put up with occasional sightings of the naked old man. They are lovely people but I am informed that it does cause them stress. If I could somehow morph into a different person who is content with wearing clothing and being more sociable, I would likely have a friend or two.

I don’t have friends in my face-to-face world. I don’t remember ever having friends that I could call real friends. I wasn’t even friends with myself. I am friendly and smile and speak gently with no put downs of others. I am a nice guy. It was my survival strategy as a child that has continued to the present. The “me” I keep hidden from others is still there, buried beneath whatever role or circumstance of life that presents itself. In the world of naturism, in a naturist venue, it gets easier for me. I often imagine that I might even have a friend if I only stayed in one place long enough. A week or less doesn’t cut it. In the world of social media, it is a different story – at least I think so. I have friends. Perhaps they are real friends, perhaps not. But friends or no friends isn’t the issue. The issue is whether or not I can, should, or could give up the world of naturism to live a more peaceful life.

My answer to this is a poem, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Is this the supreme act of selfishness when family, friends, neighbours, and my significant other need something different from me? Feel free to offer your answers.

Joy and Freedom and Nudity

Emma

It is a rainy morning this morning and it appears that it will be a rainy weekend as I spend the next three days with my youngest grandchildren. Here, the first two hours of the morning belong to me as everyone is still sleeping. I finally have the ambition to sit still and do some writing. Taking this time to talk with you became my first priority. I have been delaying this post which was promised to Emma until the conditions were ripe for its creation. The first photo given to me by Emma [not this photo] was for the Naked Poetry 2 book which was published in December 2014. Today’s photo, what I would call a retro photo, took me back in time to think about how much the world has changed since we came to know each other. My guess is that it isn’t only the world that has changed. Each of us is not the same person we were ten years ago no matter how much we would protest. Social media has had a lot to do with this though can social media be considered the main reason for how the world has changed.

As naturists or nudists or just as people who prefer to not wear clothing when we can get away with it, time seems to have done one of two things – shoved us deeper into closets where we sneak moments of nudity; or, we have pushed the edges of our own boundaries to search out more and more freedom. Personally, I take more chances with when and where I allow my clothing to fall off. Yet still, I remain well aware that there are times and places where going nude is not going to do me any good at all. There is a real world out there and it isn’t going to let us get away with total freedom of expression. So, that has us, as a collective, build virtual communities on Twitter and a few other scarce social media platforms.

Emma has been playfully active on Twitter with a hashtag called #diaryofanude or as someone also named it DOAN. The images that have emerged have been playful as well as inviting others to join in the activity. I invite you to check out the hashtag and get involved in the fun with Emma and others. Nudity, virtual social nudity, is an act of personal freedom that should be celebrated with others who are supportive. Hiding in the closet, fearful of being found while nude doesn’t have to be one’s condition. Owning one’s natural body is not a capital crime. Take some time and discover the joy and freedom that being clothing free can offer you.

Just a note: You don’t have to show pictures of yourself to enjoy that freedom. Leave the camera behind and just experience. That is enough … at least for now.

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