Monthly Archives: February 2016
For the first six weeks in Mexico this year, I have not been doing sitting meditation. It seemed that every time I sat down my head would race to wander through the story I am busy writing. It became so frustrating to find the next word or sentence popping up in my head which then sent me back to the computer before those words could be lost. I have tried simply letting those words sit quietly in my head to wait for meditation to end, but they only ended up getting lost and then having me get angry about losing those words.
As a result, I turned to walking meditation. As in sitting meditation, it was all about the breath, feeling the inspiration and exhalation of each breath. Walking used up the energy that grew out of that attention to breathing. Between the walking and the breathing, I was able to tame my mind so that I could simply be in the sunshine attentive to the environment of sun, sand, and sea without needing to make mental judgements.
Now that the first draft has been completed and I now have the beginning, the body and the ending of the story in place, I am returning to sitting meditation which I can do skyclad. By necessity of environment, walking meditation had me wear a bathing suit, the least I could wear. There are six weeks remaining before I head home to Canada, plenty of time to regain the habit of sitting meditation au naturel, plenty of time to complete the book’s rewrite.
It feels like I have just finished walking thousands of kilometres across the Canadian prairies. Well, that is more than a slight exaggeration, I am tired, pleasantly tired from having completed the first draft of the third and final book in my journey of healing. The draft sits at more than 70,000 words. I know that it is just the first draft and there is a lot of writing to go as I return to the beginning of the book to clean up the messes I made along the way.
The objective is to have it ready to be printed when I return home to Canada in another six weeks. Seriously thinking of using black and white images in the book, photos that already exist of the forty-five years that the story encompasses.
The sun is out with sporadic clouds passing by as I continue working on my writing in the garden. It’s a good day for writing skyclad – not too hot nor not too cool. The writing of my story from 1971 to the present now covers more than sixty thousand words and has just begun to look at 2014, a very difficult year in which my identity as a naturist, even as a man, is challenged by both the inner and outer world. As a result, the writing has slowed down so that I can take care with my words. I resist as best I can, being reactive rather than consciously aware of what was happening.
If you check the archives of this site you will see a gap of three months, the time I spent in Mexico at the beginning of 2014. It was as if I was denying naturism and my role in that world. I was trying to twist myself into a more acceptable version of myself, one that would more easily be in relationship with those closest to me, and the world in general. I still struggle with how I can be in my world and be a naturist at the same time. I already knew that being nude, especially in nature was therapeutic for me. Yet, I began to doubt that this was a therapy that I truly needed, that perhaps there was a better way to be mentally well. I had tried counselling, psychological analysis, meditation, Buddhism, and so many more therapeutic modes for more than twenty years without being able to achieve the level of inner peace that I had found in nude therapy. But perhaps there was something I had missed along the way, perhaps I had not tried hard enough.
So, today, I find myself again asking these same questions as I examine my passage through that period of time. In trying to reach a reasonable conclusion I am left to tell the whole story and then see what the evidence before me is trying to tell me in response. I need to know who and what I am. Those around me need to know as well; they need to know the who, the what, and the why of my relationship to naturism. Only then can they realign themselves with who I am authentically rather than some distorted and lived lie of who I am.
Each day, weather permitting, which is about nine days out of ten, my wife and I stroll the beach for about four and a half kilometres in each direction before heading into the sea to cool off. Of course, I have to wear a swimsuit such as this one on the left. I have four such swimsuits which are what I could best describe as just covering the essentials. In spite of being “well dressed” for the beach, I do get my fair share of shocked looks which are often followed by grinning and blushing, usually by the younger set wearing knee long board shorts with designer underwear peaking out to be suitably in style.
Once the walk is done, then it’s into the sea where the suit becomes an arm band much like the tattoos of barbed wire that many younger people now wear. Of course, I keep some distance from other swimmers so that there isn’t an indignant response in spite of the fact that all is out of sight beneath the waves. Seeing the bathing suit on my arm is a declaration of freedom, even if that freedom is carefully disguised by the sea. It’s the principle that counts.
I get confused, to say the least, by the responses to my near nudity on the beach as we pass resorts filled with “cool” and “privileged” guests. I wonder why they cover up so much, even to the point of wearing a cover-up while moving from gardens to seaside, sometimes even struggling the wrap when taking their places on the lounge chairs lined up beneath palapas. I also wonder why so many women wear full bathing suits rather than take a minimalist approach. On the average, about six out of ten women we pass avoid bikinis, even the more discrete versions. Even then, there is a tendency to wear some sort of wrap that hides nothing, as though they are protecting their modesty.
As for the guys, they strut with arms held slightly apart from their bodies as if they have just finished lifting weights while dressed in board shorts that do anything but flatter their attempts at being macho. It’s hard to be a hunk when the gut bulges out like a woman preparing to deliver twins. In their attempts to look cool, the can of beer in the hand with a ball cap worn backwards thus not offering the eyes any protection from the sun, completes the fashion.
When will people stop being afraid of human bodies? When will they stop being the slaves of a fashion industry that works overtime to tell them that they are imperfect unless they get the latest styles, a look that is passé the moment they become available at the local shops in their cities. It is always a merciless race to be worthy in the eye of the critical public. No wonder they are aghast seeing my wife and I, two seniors in their sixties, not give a shit about fashion, just simply wearing as little as possible and feeling free in the process. It’s good to like who you are and the body you come wrapped up in.
I am writing at a good pace, the final book of my Broken Road series. In this book I give a prominent place to naturist as a path for psychological transformation to better mental health. So far, more than 50,000 words are committed to the first draft.
As I write each chapter, I send a copy to my wife to read so that I can confirm that what I intended to say is actually said, and said in a manner that does no harm to others in the process. After all, the book is my story and has no authority to tell the stories of others. I sense that the story is rushing towards a completion in the not-too-distant-future. And, as with all of my writing, it will sit still for a bit before I return to it from cover-to-cover in order to make corrections, additions, and deletions so that the tale is ready to share with others, before I dare publish it.
This book needs that extra care and attention because it tells all in my world about my being a naturist, the why and the how of it all. Some are aware because they read my blog posts, or have seen my Naked Poetry books; yet, most in my extended family and community are unaware of my naturism. So, in a way, there is a risk that is waiting to be taken when I bring the book out from the confines of the computer into the real world.
So far, my story has passed the 40,000 word mark. There is no question that this focus on book three of the Broken Road series has kept me busy when not walking along the beach. Thankfully I get to write at least a few hours outside most days even though the weather has been quite cold for Mexico with temperatures dipping to 12C. As the locals say, “Qué puto frio!” on days when the temperatures has everyone searching for sweaters and jackets. In spite of the weather, I am turning a darker shade of whatever colour I am, as the locals tell me, I have beautiful dark skin like a Mexican.
So much for the time out. Time to get back to writing before it’s time for Guacamole and wine with my wife. Hasta luego!
Growing older can reward a person with peace and well being in spite of the effects of time on the body. There is no doubt that I don’t have the buff, fit body that I had when still in my forties while I was still running marathons. Twenty extra pounds later, I find that I am satisfied that time has not done more damage to my body. I know that I could lose a bit of weight and likely feel better, but there is no rush. Rather than weight, I have refocused my eating habits while keeping up with activity by walking a minimum of eight kilometres a day.
When the walk is done, I have time for sunbathing, a deliberate choice when the sun is cooperative for it is the sun baking my body that clears out the old ghosts and shadows that used to rule my life. And, on most days, I take the time to write my story. I write for myself and learn as I write about myself. Time, with the aid of photographs and a decent grasp of depth psychology principles allow me to understand what happened to me on the journey back to better mental health. Like most who enter the field of mental health counselling, I had a history of my own to cope with. Doing the work to heal, I learned how to be a better guide to assist in the healing process for others.
We all go through life carrying wounds that came with growing out of childhood into adulthood. Some have wounds that nag in the background, and others are crippled by their wounds. Regardless of the severity of our wounds, it is our response to those wounds that allow us to either ignore them for the most part, or get help in order to mentally, and sometimes physically survive. I have survived my wounds through a variety of methods with naturism taking a prominent role in that journey. I have learned that I can be gentle with myself as the seventh decade of my life approaches. No one expects me to look and act like a young, virile man so that pressure is off the table. That allows me now to smile a lot more with honest smiles. Learning how to be more gentle with myself has given me the gift of being more gentle with others. Perhaps this is what is meant by entering one’s “golden years.”
I have chosen a painting by Mary Bassett for today’s post. A mother and her child, a scene made immortal in Christian churches around the world with a baby suckling at the breast of his mother. In these scenes, the child in nude, a sinless nudity. In the scene, the mother’s breast is exposed while the baby drinks of her milk. It is all good. Well, that is not exactly what so many offended and angry people believe once the step outside of their churches. There is a righteous anger targeted at women in general, breast-feeding mothers who dare to not hide the fact of their being both female and mother.
That same Christian society rails at the Muslim world for Burkas, Niqabs and Hijabs. Oppressors of women, are the charges; fear of the unknown lurking behind these coverings is the real reason. We just don’t trust women at tall. After all, it was a woman who got us tossed out of the Garden of Eden. It isn’t about logic at all; it isn’t about women being evil; it isn’t even about the woman’s body. It’s about the fear men have about the power of the feminine.
Men intuitively know that from their first moments of life, they are at the mercy of the feminine, the mother. In adulthood, their brains shut down when the image of the feminine activates a desire to crawl back into mother, to enter her, to drink from her. They find themselves victims of an inner lust and thirst that no amount of sexual satiation can ever fill. There is no acceptance that it is something within themselves that needs to be addressed, a dialogue with their own psyche that must happen so that they can escape the power of a mother-complex.
Men fear women, fear their power. She becomes a goddess and a demon, a creator and a destroyer. Images that rival that of Kali, a Hindu goddess, that have men as trophies, the heads and hands of men chopped off illustrate that absolute inner, unconscious terror. Yet Kali, that force of the feminine, isn’t about being a force of evil. Rather, she is a force against evil, an evil that resides within each of us. She challenges us to take ownership of our inner darkness, to behead the monsters that rage within us rather than project those monsters onto others. Only then can we tame the rage and anger and fears that breed destructive relationships.
The landlady is away so the nudist will play. Yes, that about sums it up. It was a very safe location for a photo as the trees and the wall do add a measure of privacy in spite of the gate which allows all to see into the front yard. The casa is a decorative place that was hand-painted with a variety of colours by the current owner’s mother who was an artist who lived in Mexico for a fair number of years.
What is it about needing to keep a low profile in the public eye that somehow has so many naturists and nudists push the boundaries of “safe nudity” risking exposure to an unsuspecting public that really doesn’t want to see nude people while they shop for fruit, buy a vegan meal, stock up at the seafood merchant’s, or get their bicycle repaired (neighbouring businesses on the street outside the gate)? Why do we risk, especially when we have a good-sized space that allows us total freedom? I know that I have this compulsion to test the limits and I am fully aware of so many others who do the same thing.
And when others do see us nude by accident, just how accidental was the event? There is more to what we do than we are conscious of in our behaviours. There is a bit of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in everyone – that part of the self that slips out and does things, says things, without the consent of the ego, the conscious self. We all have instances when we say in confusion when confronted by evidence, “Did I do that? Did I say that? Are you sure?” In all of these instances, a shadow aspect of self is deliberately letting us know something is going on within us, something that we are desperately trying to deny.
In all of such incidents, we can’t categorise the behaviour as exhibitionist when it comes to nudity. There is a different. Exhibitionist behaviour is a deliberate act to shock, to dare in order to get a shot of adrenalin that gives us ego inflation. We know what we are going to do, plan it, and execute it in spite of the likelihood of getting caught with our pants down. The work of the shadow is something else. When it acts on our behalf, we are as shocked as the people who witness our vulnerability.
And then there is the middle territory where the compulsion is seen, and one is aware but somehow not quite in control. One becomes a bystander witnessing the event, trying at the same time to moderate the exposure and the risk. Who said being a human is anything but a messy thing?
This morning the local gardener is coming to do his weekly chores, a practice he does all year long for the owner of the casa in which we stay for the winter months. There are things that I do in the garden on the other days with permission from the owner, so that the garden can feel like it belongs as much to us as it does to her. Today, new plants are being added to the garden. I selected and prepared the planting sites for two bougainvillea plants and a rose bush. Of course, as always, I did the preparation work while nude. I only put on a pair of shorts when the gardener came.
In case you are wondering, this isn’t a photo of me. It was taken from the ‘Net where it had been featured in 2011 for Naked Gardening Day. I guess that the idea of celebrating Naked Gardening in some manner by giving it a “day” on the calendar is useful for making the larger public aware of the practice; but for me, any day is gardening day when the weather is cooperative. The beginning of February on the Canadian prairies will never be a gardening day.