A Naked Moment of Rest in Cusco, Peru

Our apartment in Cusco

We have finally done the last of our tours in Cusco, a flurry of tours that took us to many archaeological sites from Wari and Inca periods in the Andes Mountains surrounding Cusco, including Machu Picchu. Tonight we travel by bus through the night to go to Puno and Lake Titicaca, the start of our second week-long adventurein Peru that will take us to Lima where we will spend our third week.

A place to hang our hiking clothing.

Our week in Cusco has left little time for being clothing free with that little time being when we were in the apartment which was very comfortable and allowed us to feel at home while we were here.

We washed our clothes following strenuous adventures during the day, relaxed with connecting with our family and friends back home using social media, cooked the occasional simple meal.

Doing dishes in our apartment.

Of course, that meant I got to do dishes on a regular basis, just as I do when I am at home on the Canadian prairies.

Cusco isn’t what I would call naturist friendly. Blame that on the Spanish who brought their world view to Peru, basically wiping out the naturally naturist attitudes toward life that was here before conquest. Of course, clothing was very important before contact simply in terms of weather imperatives. It gets very cold because of the altitude. Cusco is in a bowl surrounded by higher hills. The elevation in the city is 3,400 metres.

I will return with more to say on another day. Until then, enjoy getting ready for Christmas.

Melvin – Fleshing the Naturist’s Hide On the Journey

Fleshing the hide.

I am continuing on with what I discovered in Hollis’ book, On This Journey We Call Our Life. As I read, I thought of Melvin’s work with hides, a work that has a meaning that defies simply being a way to earn money. It is a work that somehow connects to something deeper for Melvin, especially in doing so while in his own natural state.

In the book, near its end, I found these words written by James Hollis as he talked about his own journey:

“Speaking for myself, all that I believed possible in the first half of life – complete understanding and management of life – proved to be delusory. At midlife I was blessed by the psyche with a deep depression. … I was being asked to confront old ways, life-diminishing complexes, to open to a larger feeling life, and to find a deeper relationship with the inner world.”

Removing the hide’s hair.

“Opening up to a larger feeling life, and to find a deeper relationship with the inner world.” Yes, that nails it right there. Though it may appear to the outer world that we are retreating away from deep relationships with the world, when we build a deeper relationship with ourselves, we in turn enter into a more authentic relationship with the world at large.

Naturism has that impact on my life, opening me up to a larger “feeling” life. I can only speak from my experience, but when my clothing is set to the side, I “feel” more fully. I feel my environment and I feel my body, and perhaps more importantly, I feel a resonance that tells me that this is what I have needed to be alive, to escape the shadows and the darkness of being an invisible person in an impersonal world.

So why does Melvin and so many others, choose to live as much as possible, a naturist life? What is it for them, for you, that makes the risk, the vulnerability worth it all? I am wondering what you can add to this conversation. Tomorrow I hope to be established in my Cusco, Peru home and will have time to once again connect with you here.

A Naturist Journey Called Life

I am at the airport, waiting for my plane to leave for Toronto, Canada as this post gets published. I wrote it up ahead of time in anticipation that I wouldn’t have the opportunity while spending my day either in the air or waiting in airports for connecting flights. The day is going to be long as there is a long wait in Toronto before I can board my flight to Lima, Peru. Then again, another long wait through the night in Lima for the next flight to Cusco, Peru where we’ll be spending a week and a half exploring the world of the Ancient Incan civilization.

On This Journey We Call Life

As I write this post, I am in a reflective state of mind. As a man who has had a career that demands introspection, I can’t seem to step outside of that nature of who I am as a person and how that has shaped my life to include naturism. I first communicated with a man called James Hollis twenty years ago. He’s a Jungian analyst and an author that I respect. I have most of his books and there is one that I thought of this morning in the wee hours before the dawn when I was sitting having coffee and staring out the window at the fog. Now, when this happens, I trust that there is a reason, and that I must honour it to see where it takes me. When coffee was done, I went to the bookshelf and pulled off this book knowing that this was the one I was called to explore. And then I read:

“While we might on some days prefer to simply be happy carrots, relieved of our urgencies, our anxieties and impossible desires, we also suffer greatly when we are not living the life which our psyche wishes us to live.”

Reading Hollis’ book

As I read those words, it dawned on me that so much of what I have felt, and from what I have heard from most people I know from the world of naturism, is about the “pull” to naturism that leaves us suffering when we deny or push back in an attempt to be “normal” among the crowd. I know I sometimes have the tendency to push back and wear clothing to keep the peace, or to attempt to convince myself that I don’t “need” to be different in this way. God knows that I am different enough in other ways. But, it invariably leads to me suffering and depression.

When the clothing comes off it feels like I can breathe easier. This is where and how I am supposed to be, the place my “psyche” is demanding from me in order to allow me feel that I belong on this particular path on this particular journey. Hollis calls it “living the questions.”  And when we refuse to live the life our psyche puts before us, we suffer. We don’t have faith in our call and retreat. We show bad faith:

” … bad faith will always demand some payment – in the body, in our relationships, in our disturbing dreams, or in the burden our children will have to carry for us.”

Something for you and I to thing about. Do we trust, or do we hide and deny hoping that somehow we can become “happy carrots?” Once one has tasted the joy and the freedom of being truly oneself, the Pandora’s Box refuses to let us put it back without psychological and physical costs.

Nudity and Joy – A Therapeutic Combination

Therapy , Nudity & Joy by Aileen Goodson

I am a retired therapist. I still occasionally have someone appear wanting some help on occasion. However, since my retirement, I have worked as a “life coach” in such instances. That said, my training and my interest in psychotherapy has continued. I still take the odd course – continuing education credits. I have never worked as a therapist while in the nude or have had clients who approached their therapy while nude. But … but I have thought seriously about it, about the possibilities.

One of the books on my reference shelves is this book, Therapy, Nudity & Joy.  I have been through the book a few times, a book that looks dispassionately for the most part, at nude psychotherapy. Each time I did this I focused on the “therapy” aspect that looked objectively at how therapy was impacted when the client was “nude.” Somehow or other, I never considered the “joy” component. Why is a matter for a different post that may or may not be written. Today’s post focuses on “JOY.”

Holly celebrating the freedom at being fully authentic with joy.

Over the past few years, as a member of different social-media naturist groups, I have seen many, many images that showed the joy of naturists when they find themselves in a good place where clothing can be dropped. However, it was only when one of my newer social-media friends posted an image with a positive message written across the surface of the image, that it finally dawned on me – joy, pure and simple joy is one of the greatest gifts that have been given to me while I am nude.

So why is this? I returned to the above book and found a pointer to the answer I was looking for:

Each child, virtually without exception, has been raised to feel and believe as a matter of external verity that the parts that have to do with sex, the related parts of the body, their functions and the associated wishes, sensations and ideas, are evil, obscene …” [Mark Reid, psychiatrist]

That’s where the joy comes from. To dare to step out of the dark shadows into the full light of consciousness shows us truths that have been denied. Of course this is true for every proscription that society has imposed upon humans since time immemorial. As a collective we battle our fears by exerting control upon others. Imagine the feeling of utter relief when one can stand outside of that and discover that it has all been a lie. Holly has done that, I have done it, and so many others have discovered this truth.

When the body and mind experience freedom and a connection with the earth, there is joy.

Mountain Naturists As Friends

Melvin as the great mountain chef

I’ve had a long-distance friendship with Melvin and his wife. We are both located west of centre in North America but in two different countries. We also share some of the same weather patterns though likely winter is more miserable here on the Canadian prairies. While I am getting ready to head to South America in less than a week with my wife. Melvin and his wife will remain in the firm grips of winter. Of course, it’s all by choice.

At our age, we choose our lives. Both of us have chosen naturism as the background, perhaps even the foundation ethic for our ‘golden years.’ Regardless of the fact that neither of us are what one might call wealthy, we are indeed wealthy because we get to choose how we live our lives.

Working with deer hide to make supple leather.

Melvin is a mountain man where I am more rooted to lower elevations. Both of us have been hunters though I have switched to hunting with a camera rather than with a rifle. For the past number of years, Melvin has become invested in taking deer hides and turning those hides into supple leather.  You can see Melvin at work in the photo here, using a tool to remove the last bits of flesh so that the hide can be worked into boots, moccasins, jackets, and other artefacts. At one time many years ago, I used deer, moose, beaver, muskrat, and even rabbit pelts to make mitts, hats, moccasins, sandals, and wall hangings that I would craft using beads like my Ojibwa and Mohawk ancestors.

Until hell freezes over, or something falls off

But of course, neither Melvin nor I could live our passions without the support of our wives. I lucked out with a queen, or perhaps the word goddess would be more appropriate (see my Naked Poetry 3 book and you will get a good idea). Melvin has his own goddess who is part trickster from what I have learned over the years. This photo gives a hint of her sense of humour.

I haven’t met Melvin or his good wife in person, yet. Somehow, I get a feeling that at some point in time we will bridge the distance of geography and find time to play cards, go for walks, and simply enjoy hanging out together – but, it can’t be in the winter time as I intend to continue fleeing winter as long as my health allows.

Summer Sunshine in the Winter

Deciding what to pack

I have passed the 50,000 word target for my November novel. There is a lot more yet to be written, but the pressure is off in terms of NoNaWriMo. As a result, I am turning to getting things ready for our trip to South America. We leave in less than a week. It’s not quite last minute, but it is close.

Everything I need will have to be packed in the black backpack that has served me for two Camino walks and the European Peace Walk, as well as being a grocery bag during our winters in Mexico. If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t come. Since we’ll be in a warm climate during their summer, I won’t need much in the way of clothing – something that suits me fine. I take every possible moment that presents itself to wear nothing at all.

Lukas in Crete

My friend Lukas from the Netherlands, like many of my other naturist friends, does the same thing, escaping to a warm place in order to enjoy the world while nude. The reality that we all face is that we can’t be nude all of the time so we do need some clothing, even when we choose to stay at a naturist resort. Most of us take our small backpacks to hold our clothes when we get clothing-free time. And, if you are like me, some sort of camera as well. You can never tell when a photo moment will appear.

Lukas beside the Sea in Crete

Along the sea shore far from the crowd one finds the freedom to be fully oneself. While wandering down trails one often finds spaces that are rarely visited which invite one to risk being clothing free.

Intentionally seeking distance

Is it worth the risk of being seen?  If you choose to drop your clothing, even though you are in a secluded area one the beach or along a trail, you will eventually be seen. In my opinion, the risk is worth it. Being seen is not the problem. The real problem becomes where, how, why, and who is seen.

A woman of any age is never perceived as a threat by anyone coming upon her topless or fully nude on a beach or relaxing in a clearing along a trail. If there is any sense of threat, it is the potential threat from the clothed passersby. A man, on the other hand, is potentially a threat simply because of his gender. For anyone coming upon a naked man, especially older men such as myself or Lukas, the other conditions determine the threat level.

Lukas reading off the seaside path

A man laying in the sand off the walking path next to the shore taking some sun is viewed safer than a man laying closer to the walking path. There is a sense of the man daring passersby to look. The motivation becomes suspect – the man isn’t there to sunbathe so why is he there?  However, just the simple choice to put some distance which then gives passersby the choice to ‘not see’ makes a world of difference, such as the image here with Lukas reading. The path is visible and there is little doubt that someone may appear and see him. Yet, coming upon a naked man reading, obviously not reading nude simply to be seen, allows passersby to look away, smile, or comment among themselves about him. The threat level is mostly non-existent, and what small threat that does exist is from the passersby.

Lukas walking along the seaside, a man seeking peace and well-being.

Once I find myself in Peru, and then in Ecuador, I imagine that I will find the right places and times to shed my clothing. Of course, like Lukas, I will be making sure that my nakedness is about my need for body freedom in a manner that doesn’t serve as a threat to others.

 

Waiting for a South American Summer in December

Predawn silhouette on the prairies

No matter how hard I try, it is extremely difficult to catch the true colours of predawn skies. Typically, like in this image, the sky ends up being brighter than it actually is. The colours seem just a tad less intense as well. Still, the effort is worth it when one considers the idea of not having any sort of photo to capture this moment in time.

On the writing a novel front, I have just passed the 44,000 word mark, a benchmark that tells me my goal is well within reach. Even taking the time to put up posts here over the past three days hasn’t slowed down the writing.

On a different note, I have also begun to gather my stuff together for our departure for South America.  The clothes and other stuff that we might need for a four-month jaunt needs to fit into my 38 litre backpack. My wife has a 30 litre backpack to carry which means that I will carry all of my stuff and some of hers. I mean, men need less clothing, especially men who take every opportunity to wear no clothes at all. Before everything gets put into the pack, something I don’t anticipate doing until December 1st, I will get a photo to place here. Since we fly out early morning of December 4th, we’re not leaving much time for last-minute changes.

And so I dream of warm sun, Machu Picchu, the Pacific Ocean, and the tropics while surrounded by snow outside of my home.