A Celebration of Freedom to Choose

At work on the rewrite of the novel, 2013.

At work on the rewrite of the novel, 2013. 

I am just over a third of the way through the re-write of my NaNoWriMo challenge novel which involves the removal of a few scenes that don’t fit in the global sense, the story line. I didn’t really know what that story line was really going to be when I began writing; I simply let the words come. Now that I am aware of the story that was trying to tell itself, the story is growing in the re-write phase, growing slowly.

In my last post, I talked about the flower children, or as they are better known, hippies, as representing a new collective mythology. As I wander through that myth, I am finding more and more natural experiences of nudity, of being clothing free as an expression of freedom and honesty. Being nude in group settings was about trust and respect in the group. Contrary to what media would say, it wasn’t about communal orgies. Yes, people fell in love and yes, they celebrated their love by making love – no different than experienced by others who kept their clothes on.


It’s not about the clothes, it’s about the intention.

There wasn’t a sense of having to prove anything. Sometimes clothing was worn, sometimes clothing was discarded. The intention was to celebrate freedom, freedom of choice. Nudism groups today are too often fundamentalist, demanding and expecting themselves and others to conform – nude twenty-four/seven – in order to be considered true nudists. It becomes and either/or dialectic that isn’t much different than assault on human freedom that is practiced by all fundamentalist groups – religious, political, social, economic – an assault that leaves too many broken. Fundamentalism is the wellspring of war.

The flower children knew this and so was born a brief moment in time when all of this was rejected and replaced with an authentic and transparent way of being. “Make love, not war,” was the mantra. And, that making love wasn’t about sex. Young men and women gifted the angry responses, the soldiers, the police – with smiles, flowers and songs that celebrated a real love for life.

And this, is the thread which I found emerging in the story of one young man wandering through that time in our social history.

Woodstock and Strawberry Fields – Flower Children

Scene from Woodstock, 1969.

Scene from Woodstock, 1969.

The novel that is currently in progress tells the story of a young man, a folk-music playing flower-child of the late sixties who was hitch-hiking across Canada at the time of Woodstock with his young lady love. He is the quintessential Flower Child, the precursor of the hippies of the early 70s.  As all good stories go, he loses this young woman and finds himself again wandering across Canada and north-western USA in search of healing a broken heart while playing music.

He makes it to Canada’s version of Woodstock at Mosport Freeway, Strawberry Fields in 1970 where there were some of the same musicians as well as other famous name groups of the day. Half a million at Woodstock and a quarter of a million at Strawberry Fields.

Strawberry Fields 1970

Strawberry Fields 1970

I was there, and like many there, I took my turn bathing in the pond shown in this newspaper clipping.

So, my novel’s main character has authentic experience upon which the tale is told. His wandering continues until he eventually meets a long-haired girl and falls in love, love at first sight. There is more to the story, but enough said.

In a way, this tale is mythology made modern, with the hero wandering through darkness, fighting the forces of darkness, battling the complexes of life and monsters of archetypal proportions, a story told over and over again in our small personal dramas in our ordinary lives.

I know, it makes you want to read the novel, doesn’t it?

Writing naturally without inhibitions – NaNoWriMo

Writing naturally without inhibitions

Writing naturally without inhibitions 

This could be me as I write my novel which is as much mythology as it is about the reality of being human in the modern world. Like this woman, I write without the covering of clothing. Barriers between self and ideas are discarded as well as the inhibitions. The only differences between her and me would be the trivial facts of my using a computer, being older, and also being male.

My writing has become a way of being in the world with the recent engagement with a Novel Writing Challenge. The challenge of word count has been met, but their writing is far from being finished. I have begun to re-approach what has been written in order to prune away the trash and fill in missing holes. As this process continues, the word count rises, but more importantly, the story takes on its own pulse, its own urgency to exist.

I haven’t been here much because of the writing. Hopefully, this will change as I slowly go through the re-write process without having the pressure of time, of deadlines.

Nakedness Has Nothing To Do With Clothes

Self-disclosure is not exhibitionism, it is more an act of self-discovery.

Self-disclosure is an act of self-discovery.

I found this post title at a website called Fully Disclothed, a blog site that brings the words and photos of people in Toronto, Canada as an act of disclosure. As I wandered through the site and listened to the words of those who took photos of themselves, or had a trusted person take their photos, I realised that what I do here at Through a Naturist Lens, is much the same.

Over the many, many posts, regardless of whether I use images of myself, of nature, or of others, I am always disclosing, discovering and curiously becoming a healthier person. Do we realise that everything that we post, whether on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other media – reveals to ourselves and others something about which we are usually unaware? Do we dare stand back and wonder at the images, the comments and the attitudes?

I am writing a novel as many of my readers are already know. It is a work of fiction. Yet, can a work of fiction really be all fiction? I doubt it. It is impossible to keep the unconscious self contained because none of us know, let alone control, those things about ourselves hidden in the unconscious shadows. But they do appear in our words, in our attitudes, in our images we paint, draw, photograph; or the images that get noticed.

Fear of Naked Bodies and Naked Self

A gift of life recovered from a world that is afraid of the naked human body.

A gift of life recovered in a world afraid of the naked human body.

My daughter shared this image on Facebook this morning. I have to say that I am proud of her for rediscovering her authority as a woman. Though she is a woman and mother of two, she will always be that little girl who changed a man into a father. As a woman, I am awed by her strength and her fearlessness. Obviously, she takes after her mother.

As parents, what do we want for our children? Do we really want them to be held hostage by fashion and by all those “isms” that tell them that their bodies are to be disliked if not hated. We somehow honour a tale, Garden of Eden, that blames women for the fact that to be human is to suffer. Is it right that we teach our toddlers to put their clothes back on, that it is bad to be naked? And we do this because … ?

You know and I know that the only thing that counts is love. Yet, we teach our children to distrust, to disparage, to deny, and that they somehow aren’t good enough. It’s sad that we gave up authority of ourselves to religions, to governments, to the opinions of neighbours, and to the nameless power behind media that somehow has found a way to channel all of that abandoned authority over self into profit.

I dare you to reclaim your own authority. I challenge you to ask questions and only listen to your soul for the answers.

NaNoWriMo – Sparks Street Mall 1969

Sparks Street Mall - Ottawa

Sparks Street Mall – Ottawa

I’m bringing a second part to the story which is drawn from Chapter 2. For those interested, I have completed Chapter 3 and more than 5,000 words for these first two days of the NaNoWriMo challenge. Let me know what you think so far.

- – -

The day was warm and sunny as Hubert walked through along the Sparks Street Mall. He had been dropped off in the city by his father who claimed to have his own prospects of work. Hubert still had about seventeen dollars left from a part-time job he had found in Vancouver. He bought a book of bus tickets and began searching for work. He checked out a number of grocery stores in which he had worked while in high school and soon found one that offered him a job at minimum wage, a dollar and hour. He was to report to work for the night shift and work in the produce section, restocking the counters while the store was closed. He was to begin work that night. He would work six nights a week from nine until six-thirty in the morning, eight hours of pay per night, forty-eight dollars a week with paydays every two weeks. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a job. Somehow he intended to save enough to pay back the money he had borrowed almost two hundred dollars.

A flower-child of the sixties

A flower-child of the sixties

As he approached the corner leading to the Canadian Press offices where his friend Derek worked as a copy boy, Hubert noticed a number of other young guys and their girlfriends who were oddly dressed. They called themselves flower children. There was always one in the crowd who would be playing folk songs by Dylan, Joan Baez and other folk musicians. He was tempted to go up to them and talk to them. Hubert had been playing guitar for six years. For the past three years he had played in his uncle’s band on Saturday nights in Legion clubs across the river in Hull and surrounding towns. Hubert had also been part of a high school rock group that played songs by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, as well as other British groups that had become popular. Just last year, Hubert had begun playing folk music and had even been able to play in a few coffee houses in Ottawa with other young musicians. When he reached the corner, he hesitated and then finally turned to see if he could talk with Derek, perhaps arrange for having lunch together.

“Hey, Hughie!” called Derek as Hubert entered the office area where Derek manned the telex machines that were constantly printing out stories that he had to gather and take to the various journalists who worked for C.P. “Where the fuck have you been? Where’s Gisèle? At home?”

Corner of Sparks St. and O'Connor St. site of the CP office

The site of the C.P .office on Sparks Street.

Punching each other on the shoulder, their way of greeting each other, a guy’s way instead of shaking hands or worse still, hugging, Hubert and Derek re-affirmed their bonds as best friends. Hubert had met Derek when they were in grade five, in an English school in Hull just across the river. Hubert was the smallest boy in the class and the target of school yard bullies. Derek was taller and unafraid of everyone, but like Hubert, a new kid in the school and isolated because of that. Derek would come to school wearing lederhosen, leather shorts with straps over the shoulders. Derek was German, the enemy for the English kids in the school. I was French and that was perhaps even worse. It wasn’t long before they found each other and became friends.

“Gisèle is in the hospital. You know I hate being called Hughie, Dearie. Do you want to go out for lunch so that I can tell you all about it?” Hubert said in response to Derek’s questions. Derek’s mothr was always embarrassing Derek by calling him Dearie in front of his friends.

“Yeah, sure. Just give me twenty minutes and I’ll meet you, outside. I brought my lunch so get yourself a hot dog or something and buy me a Coke while you’re at it,” Derek instructed.

As the two talked while sitting on one of the benches along Sparks Street, Hubert told his story about the past three months, mostly talking about the last two days in Vancouver and the events back in Ottawa since his return.

“Your dad’s an asshole,” Derek confirmed. “There’s an opening at C.P. for another copy boy. You like writing. Why don’t you apply? It pays two hundred and eighty-eight dollars every two weeks.”

“Really? When can I begin?”

“Jeez, you have to get the job first. The poster says the job is to start on October first. It’d be neat if we actually worked together. I’m applying to become a photographer’s helper there as the last guy just got fired. I get the job if someone else gets hired to be copy boy.”

With lunch finished after some intense flirting by Derek with the girls passing by on the street, Derek took Hubert to meet the personnel manager. Once the job application forms were filled out, Hubert was told to come back in two days for an interview. Hubert couldn’t believe his luck. This would be the most he had ever earned if they gave him the job.


NaNiWriMo – Naked In a Grove

He was sitting on the ground, hugging his knees

. . . sitting on the ground, hugging his knees

Chapter One

Hubert was sitting on the ground, hugging his knees in the late hours of the night, just before the approach of dawn. Tears, there were still a few of them left, were very slowly tracing lines down his cheeks as he huddled as though trying desperately to hold the bits and pieces left of his broken heart. His mind kept going over and over again the scene from yesterday afternoon at the Ottawa General Hospital, the moment when he saw Gisèle being wheeled off into the elevator flanked by her mother and her step-father. Hubert had wanted to go with them as Gisèle was taken to her room in the psych ward but the family was adamant that he would not be permitted to see her at all, at any time. They blamed him for her having to be hospitalized.

When Hubert had talked with her doctor, Dr. Michaels who was a psychologist, earlier in the afternoon when Hubert had taken Gisèle to the hospital, Hubert had told the doctor of the events that had led to him bringing her to the hospital. He told the doctor of the history of sexual abuse by her step-father and the emotional abuse by her mother and of Gisèle’s frequent descents into darkness. Hubert showed the doctor a few of the drawings made by Gisèle that told of that inner darkness, and he told him of how Gisèle had mentally collapsed while in a Jesus freak commune in Vancouver just a few days earlier and how he had taken her to the hospital in Vancouver where he found out that she needed some long-term psychiatric care. Borrowing some money for train fare, Hubert then took Gisèle home to Ottawa and straight to the hospital.

Doctor Michaels talked about the legal requirement of having to contact Gisèle’s mother. It was the law. He wasn’t happy with the law, especially when it was frequently the parents who were the cause of youth having to be admitted to hospitals for trauma, physical and psychological trauma. The doctor was gentle with Hubert, impressed that someone his age could already be this mature and wise enough to reach out for help.

And now, Hubert had lost Gisèle. Not knowing what to do next, he has returned to his parents’ home in the countryside. He hadn’t been able to fall asleep in the old house his parents mad moved to just three years earlier, and like other times when he was feeling helpless, he had retreated to this small meadow in the wooded area far enough from the house as to be ignored. It was his safe haven where he would often retreat to when upset, when things were rough. And like other times when the weather was warm, he abandoned his clothing in a pile next to the tree.

It was chilly and Hubert hugged himself into a tight ball in order to find some warmth. The idea of putting his clothes back on hadn’t entered his mind. This was his sacred and safe place and unconsciously he removed his clothing when entering it as he would have removed his hat upon entering a church. He had discovered this small opening in the wooded area two years earlier, in the first spring that his family had lived on the old farmyard a few miles outside of Ottawa. He didn’t remember what had happened that sent him out of the house in search of sanctuary, a place where he could nurse his wounds; and it didn’t even matter. There had always been things happening that wounded him. Usually it was his father, Laurent, who was responsible for the wounding. It was because of his father that Hubert had left home three months earlier to take Gisèle and head west in hopes of building a new life for both of them.

As the sky began to show a thin thread of light, Hubert felt the chill increase and became aware of the twigs that were digging into his butt. He stood up and put on his pants and tee-shirt and slipped on his cheap sandals. He knew that he had to return to the house and gather his things together. He had to leave again though he wasn’t too sure where he would go yet. He wanted to go back to Vancouver, but he didn’t want to leave Ottawa either as he still hoped that somehow, Gisèle would be allowed to see him again.