We had visitors from yesterday afternoon until today, mid-morning. The couple who had arrived to spend the night are always welcome visitors and it doesn’t take long before discussion began to take in as many topics as could be fitted into the time between meals and card games. Religion, Politics, Syria, Gun Control, Education, Immigration, Health Care, First Nations, the Economy and missed opportunities in trading stocks were just some of the topics that were covered. It wasn’t long before a sense of almost hopelessness about the situation in the world settled in. Finding and naming problems seemed so easy, yet approaching solutions ran into roadblocks. Neither of us seemed to know where answers would come from, how we would make the next steps, even what those next steps could be. In a way, it was all quite depressing. As we looked at our country and the world around us, we were ashamed and depressed of how it was all turning out.
“A portion of the suffering in depression comes from our inability to give it language and imagery. It feels vague and therefore without meaning. We don’t know what to do because we don’t know what it is.” [Moore, Original Self, p. 33]
In spite of the stalemate, we discarded the topics in favour of card games and some wine. We knew we didn’t know where to begin or even what the real cause of all these problems were.
Now, my guests are gone and I am taking time to reflect on the mood that arose from our discussions. It seems that everything that has value to us is being tested in order to have us make choices about just what we value and how much we value these things. What do we want, need, regardless of obstacles? What are we willing to give up knowing we can’t have it all? And why?
For me, at this time in my life, naturism is a vital part of my life. I need to experience being free of clothing at times. It’s as though it allows my body to breathe. I had to risk communicating this need to my wife and in the process, risk respect continuing in our relationship. If I would have stayed silent, I would have become more depressed in trying to hide and repress this need. I was lucky – perhaps not as lucky as having already established a significant level of trust, tolerance and openness with each other.
That is an individual case study, but what of the growing intolerance of naturism in the larger society which was never very tolerant of nudity to start with? What is the problem? Can we actually name it? Well, as I realised last night, the problem begins and ends with the individual. And, the solution begins and ends with the individual. We constantly forget that all communities, all societies are simply gatherings of individuals.
So I need to turn back and look at myself. What is problematic for me? That is actually a hard question, for as I search for the words to speak what I need, I find myself struggling to find the words to describe the stirrings and needs and fears and hopes that lay within. So I find myself stepping back into simpler tasks – simply getting nude when possible. As I have been doing this, I find that I begin to stretch the “when possible” definition. Of course, in doing this I begin to bump into situations where I am faced with fear and indecision.
Yet, I risk and dare and in the process, there are more and more possibilities found. Now, my neighbours know of my time spent naked. As they come to the door and find me greeting them wearing a towel or a wrap, they sense my nudity even though I am technically not nude. Relationships with neighbours is not deteriorating or disappearing. Individual to individual we are simple discovering and rediscovering the reality of a known and accepted person.
Now, if all of us did something as simple as this, gently and slowly stretching the boundaries of nude when possible, the larger problem shrinks. If we confront the larger community, there is a significant reactive response that typically ends up with the “nude when possible” opportunities shrinking. At least, this is how I see it at this point in time.