Authentic In Our Imperfect Bodies

There is beauty in imperfection.

There is beauty in imperfection.

While my wife and I were hiking down a trail last week, I saw these leaves highlighted by the morning sun and knew that I had a photo to take. I saw them as something beautiful in spite of the fact that there were scars showing that these leaves were on their last legs of life. It reminded me of those old people who are so wrinkled and bent with years who have been fully touched by their lives, authentically real.

There is a Japanese term that comes to mind, Wabi Sabi. “Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.” [Wikipedia] Nature is filled with things we would call imperfect, yet when we truly look closely, we find a curious perfection in their authenticism. It is much the same with people.

Faces that have stories to tell.

Faces that have stories to tell.

In our travels around the world, we have seen many, many older people whose faces grab one’s attention. It is as though their faces become works of art upon which there are many stories to be told. Seeing these faces, there is a sense of respect for them as humans that emerges. If you have ever been to Cuba, there is an old woman who smokes cigars in a city square in Havana who draws everyone’s attention. It seems everyone wants to take her picture. Once while we were in Shanghai, we saw an old, very old Chinese man in traditional costume much as the old lady in Cuba was in traditional costume. Like the Cuban woman, this Chinese man captured my attention as well as the attention of other foreigners in the city. And like I did in Cuba, I took a photo.

Strangely, these people pictures I take on our travels around the world never include faces of sculpted perfection where wrinkles have been banished beneath too much makeup or cosmetic surgery. It is as though such faces deny nature, disrespect nature.

Those who fight the good fight, caring for others, being fully invested in living, and respecting their own bodies as they work to the moment were working is not possible anymore – these are the people I respect the most. They have dared life and met what life gave them, unashamed of their scars, their bent bodies. Honesty is beautiful, isn’t it?

Trees Stripping And Going Bare For Winter

It was a cold, blustery day . . .

It was a cold, blustery day . . .

I took a bit of time out from writing to take this post-supper photo in our back yard before day had turned into night. I was checking out some of the chores which are accumulating as fall advances, especially as there is a suggestion of snow within the next week. Ugh! I love snow, but not before it is actually winter. Likely I will have to roto-till the garden tomorrow before the rain arrives tomorrow evening, rain which might become snow before the night is over.

With weather becoming an issue for outdoor naturism, I am likely going to have to get all of my clothing-free fixes indoors until I arrive in Mexico in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations with some acquaintances there. My wife and I spend three months in Mexico staying warm and working on regaining the tans we will have lost by then. With a few different writing projects underway, and all of that writing done au naturel, I will not suffer too much in the process of waiting for Mexico time.

I think I have found a solution for the photographs for my second book of Naked Poetry – photo submission by naturist friends and acquaintances. Where there is an interest in submitting a photo, I will be sending these friends and acquaintances a poem for which they will create a photo that compliments the poem. I put out that idea earlier today on Facebook and have already had a good number expressing interest in participating. If you have an interest in joining in, read my poetry book Naked Poetry and see how a photo works with a poem. Then, send me a message indicating your interest. I will follow up from there and we will see where that takes us. I have to admit I am very excited about the whole process and how it will turn out as a final product.

Just Another Nude Hiker When Opportunity Is Present

Hiking on the prairie hills.

Hiking on the prairie hills.

I do a lot of hiking. Just this month of September, 2014 I have already hiked over 300 kilometres. I do have to admit that most of those kilometres had me hike while wearing clothing. Finding hiking spots where nudity is possible is a major task as the true wilderness, rather than public trails, are unmarked and quite inaccessible for the most part. Strangely, I can do more naked hiking close to home in the hills and valleys found on the prairies.

There is a lot of space, seemingly empty space, on the prairies where farms and ranches are huge. The distance to the next town to the south of where I live is 44 kilometres, and to the north, 37 kilometres. Most farmers now live in the closest town rather than on their farms so that their children can take part in community activities without having unending commutes from farm house to community activity centre. That leaves a sparsely settled countryside even emptier of human presence most of the time.

With that said, there are times when human presence in the countryside is frequent enough to make the risk to hike naked not worth it. Seeding, crop spraying and harvest seasons have the roads busy with traffic. During those times, one needs to retreat into the hills and just relax in some remote location where the only presence might be a cow or a passing deer.

Of course, there are always mosquitoes, black flies, wind, and other elements of nature to make it even more difficult. But, as any naturist already knows, the risks are worth it when you can feel the trail beneath your feet and feel the breeze on your body while getting a full dose of vitamin D from the sun. Happy hiking.

Just Another Nude Hiker When Opportunity Is Present

No this isn't me though it looks like some place I have hiked once upon a time.

No this isn’t me though it looks like some place I have hiked once upon a time.

I do a lot of hiking. Just this month of September, 2014 I have already hiked over 300 kilometres. I do have to admit that most of those kilometres had me hike while wearing clothing. Finding hiking spots where nudity is possible is a major task as the true wilderness, rather than public trails, are unmarked and quite inaccessible for the most part. Strangely, I can do more naked hiking close to home in the hills and valleys found on the prairies.

There is a lot of space, seemingly empty space, on the prairies where farms and ranches are huge. The distance to the next town to the south of where I live is 44 kilometres, and to the north, 37 kilometres. Most farmers now live in the closest town rather than on their farms so that their children can take part in community activities without having unending commutes from farm house to community activity centre. That leaves a sparsely settled countryside even emptier of human presence most of the time.

With that said, there are times when human presence in the countryside is frequent enough to make the risk to hike naked not worth it. Seeding, crop spraying and harvest seasons have the roads busy with traffic. During those times, one needs to retreat into the hills and just relax in some remote location where the only presence might be a cow or a passing deer.

Of course, there are always mosquitoes, black flies, wind, and other elements of nature to make it even more difficult. But, as any naturist already knows, the risks are worth it when you can feel the trail beneath your feet and feel the breeze on your body while getting a full dose of vitamin D from the sun. Happy hiking.

The Naked Ego is Puffed Up With Ignorance

The problems of being a flawed human.

The problems of being a flawed human.

I have been talking about Shadow and the Personal Unconscious, as well as the Collective Unconscious, often enough in my blog posts, that perhaps I need to spend a bit of time to explain what I mean by these words. Perhaps I have assumed too much from my readers. Let me begin to explain that I truly am a trained psychotherapist with most of my training in depth psychology with a focus on Jungian psychology. I do have training in cognitive psychology with a focus on brief therapy models such as solution-focused therapy; as well, I have a background in Gestalt therapy which I found very useful in working with adolescents and adults who are more body oriented (sensate). Add to this mix a strong grounding in Tibetan Buddhism and you will begin to see a significant part of what I draw upon for my way of understanding the human psyche.

We obviously, no matter how hard we work or try can ever completely know ourselves. We can with a lot of effort become more aware, more conscious of ourselves. We may even be willing to acknowledge that even what we think we know, is somehow suspect because of various unidentified factors that slip under our control to affect our thoughts, moods and actions. What we know is simply that, what we know – ego knowledge. It is that area that is “unknown” that is the source of most of our problems that we typically blame on others. That unknown is called the unconscious. The diagram to the left is misleading as it suggests that the unconscious is relatively small and perhaps can be made smaller if we simply expose more of our “hidden self” to others who would in turn clue us in to those things about ourselves for which we are “blind.”

I am sure, that like everyone I know, there are things you regret saying and regret doing. More often than not, you can’t even explain why you might have said or done these things to people you profess to love. Often when confronted byHoll those we love about what we have said or done, we deny them while honestly believing that we are truly innocent of what we have been accused of saying or doing. “What made me say that?” becomes, “Why did you make me say that?” as we blame others for our unconscious actions and speech. I could go on and on with examples, but there is enough to give one the idea that perhaps we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do.  As James Hollis puts it, “the ego seldom really knows enough to know that it does not know enough.” (Hollis, Why Good People Do Bad Things, p. 12) We learn as we get older that our truths and certainties of our younger years are now fuzzy at best. It seems the more we learn, the less we “know.”

This unconscious aspect of ourselves permeates all of our lives, all of our relationships, our beliefs, our avoidances, our embracings including naturism and nudism. As soon as we think we “know,” as soon as we are convinced of our truths, we are limited in our awareness. We have retreated into yet another fundamentalist belief whether it is the belief that nudity is immoral, that naturism is the only true way of being – any idea that reduces the world to black and white; us versus them; good guys and bad guys with God on our side – all of these are examples of being caught up in a blend of collective and personal unconscious – or Shadow. The Shadow is not black or white either. The debate trying to discern who is a true nudist, what is a true nudist, is a debate that reeks of ego rather than awareness. For with awareness, the debate becomes pointless.

The Naked Ego is Puffed Up With Ignorance

I have been talking about Shadow and the Personal Unconscious, as well as the Collective Unconscious, often enough in my blog posts, that perhaps I need to spend a bit of time to explain what I mean by these words. Perhaps I have assumed too much from my readers. Let me begin to explain that I truly am a trained psychotherapist with most of my training in depth psychology with a focus on Jungian psychology. I do have training in cognitive psychology with a focus on brief therapy models such as solution-focused therapy; as well, I have a background in Gestalt therapy which I found very useful in working with adolescents and adults who are more body oriented (sensate). Add to this mix a strong grounding in Tibetan Buddhism and you will begin to see a significant part of what I draw upon for my way of understanding the human psyche.

jo-hari windowLet me begin with the Jo-Hari Window, a simple diagram that looks at the self in a two-dimensional grid:

We obviously, no matter how hard we work or try can ever completely know ourselves. We can with a lot of effort become more aware, more conscious of ourselves. We may even be willing to acknowledge that even what we think we know, is somehow suspect because of various unidentified factors that slip under our control to affect our thoughts, moods and actions. What we know is simply that, what we know – ego knowledge. It is that area that is “unknown” that is the source of most of our problems that we typically blame on others. That unknown is called the unconscious. The diagram to the left is misleading as it suggests that the unconscious is relatively small and perhaps can be made smaller if we simply expose more of our “hidden self” to others who would in turn clue us in to those things about ourselves for which we are “blind.”

I am sure, that like everyone I know, there are things you regret saying and regret doing. More often than not, you can’t even explain why you might have said or done these things to people you profess to love. Often when confronted byHoll those we love about what we have said or done, we deny them while honestly believing that we are truly innocent of what we have been accused of saying or doing. “What made me say that?” becomes, “Why did you make me say that?” as we blame others for our unconscious actions and speech. I could go on and on with examples, but there is enough to give one the idea that perhaps we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do.  As James Hollis puts it, “the ego seldom really knows enough to know that it does not know enough.” (Hollis, Why Good People Do Bad Things, p. 12) We learn as we get older that our truths and certainties of our younger years are now fuzzy at best. It seems the more we learn, the less we “know.”

This unconscious aspect of ourselves permeates all of our lives, all of our relationships, our beliefs, our avoidances, our embracings including naturism and nudism. As soon as we think we “know,” as soon as we are convinced of our truths, we are limited in our awareness. We have retreated into yet another fundamentalist belief whether it is the belief that nudity is immoral, that naturism is the only true way of being – any idea that reduces the world to black and white; us versus them; good guys and bad guys with God on our side – all of these are examples of being caught up in a blend of collective and personal unconscious – or Shadow. The Shadow is not black or white either. The debate trying to discern who is a true nudist, what is a true nudist, is a debate that reeks of ego rather than awareness. For with awareness, the debate becomes pointless.

Childhood Collusion And Adult Shame and Guilt

Reading a good book in the sunshine.

Reading a good book in the sunshine.

I have now returned from our last camping trip and the camper is unpacked and soon to be put into its winter resting place nearby. Since it is a warm day (30C) and sunny, it didn’t take me long to find a spot in my back yard where I could be skyclad and do some reading. It has been a while since I have looked at James Hollis’ book, Why Good People Do Bad Things, so it just felt right to bring the book out from the shelf where it has lain idle.

Why? Well perhaps it has to do with the fact that being nude, even in one’s own yard, is doing something bad. If this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be hiding in the back yard or staying clothed when in other nature settings where people are present. Of course I am using the word “people” here to refer to others in general terms for other naturists/nudists wouldn’t view my nudity as me doing something bad – maybe a bit controversial or risky given the environmental and societal conditions surrounding my nudity.

As it happens, I found something in the book that bears repeating here, a quotation that fits what I am talking about.

As children, we learn to “read” the world around us to find what is acceptable, what is dangerous. Many learned that matters of sexual character were not permissible in their family or religion, and so associated their own natural impulses and desires as something evil, or at best furtive and contaminated. [p. 205]

Nudity, in spite of all the noise made by naturists and nudists to the contrary, is sexual. Sexual does not mean that being nude means that one is on the verge of copulating with another person (willingly or unwillingly on their part). Sexual does mean that one’s sexuality is not disguised or denied as though that sexuality – bare skin, exposed genitals (overt or implied) – was indeed something to be ashamed of. Toddlers exhibit a “natural” way of being when they lose their clothing to run freely in their “birthday suits.” We teach these toddlers that it is unacceptable to be natural in this manner, basing our beliefs on religion, societal prejudices, law, and even under the guise of simply it being infantile and unseemly as one grows older. I notice that just by my finding a quiet and secluded space in my yard, I demonstrate just how powerful those childhood injunctions are on the psyche. Hollis goes on to explain further.

The by-product of our necessary collusion with the realpolitik of childhood vulnerability is guilt, shame,inhibition, and most of all, self-alienation. We all, still today, reenact these collusions, suffer this shame, and retreat from our wholeness. [ibid]

The shoe fits, doesn’t it? It’s time to go back to some more reading. I will be back. Until then, ask yourself a few hard questions and see just how much you want to avoid admitting that this also speaks about you and your experience.