I found this photo on Twitter this morning posted by @Rowlivia. I have been on this wall twice in the past, but it never looked like this, bathed in sunlight peeking out from the clouds. Is it a trick of light, or is this as true an image of the reality of the Great Wall as those taken by weekend warriors who rush by the tens of thousands to walk the wall, shoulder to shoulder, taking photos with their cell phones?
What is “reality?” It can’t be what I see and how I see it as that would have me the authority on reality. My eyes, and the lenses for my camera never see the same world as my neighbour, my children, my grandchildren, or any other person at any place on the planet. What is reality includes all of these images, but also includes much, much more. Or, perhaps, much, much less. Perhaps it is all illusion. If we can’t really define anything as a truth about its nature, then we are freed from the prisons of our own making. We can be free simply to be in the world, both as a participant and as an observer. This is heady stuff. No authority to control you, to define you, to categorize you, to . . . The only authority is the self, the ego.
I think many naturists have sort of figured this out in at least a small way, in a way that focuses on body image. When all the clothes come off, we are left with no more and no less than raw humanity. We see ourselves and others in this sea of naked flesh and soon figure out that the value of self and other is not defined by appearance at all. With that awareness dawning, all bodies are equal with no moral, ethical, analytical or sociological rationale to rank bodies on a “beauty” or “ugly” scale. We live in our bodies but are not defined by our bodies. Our bodies are just hosts that allow us to move to interact with others in order to discover the essence of these others as well as psychic reflections of our own self in return.