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The novel is approaching 40,000 words and is nearing the end of one major thread in the plot. Before today is over, I will be shifting the setting to a different European location leaving the Camino Portuguese behind as the trio of protagonists complete their pilgrimage to Santiago.
Due to the complications that arose during the pilgrimage, they must remain in Europe to resolve those problems before they return home to North America. And since I write as though guided by an inner voice, at times like this, I need to step outside the novel to make sure that the next steps are logical and fit with what has happened in the story.
It’s morning, not long after sunrise as I take this break from the novel while waiting for coffee to be ready, coffee I made earlier while it was still dark outside that now needs to be reheated in the microwave oven. I have been awake for almost five hours and will be working on the book for another eight hours before it will be time for me to again interact with other humans. We’ll see where the rest of today takes me in the novel.
This couple, Melvin and Sandy, are friends of mine in the cyberworld, friends for several years. I look forward to the day when we get together. Like my wife and I, this couple has a long history together, one that has worked to allow them to discover themselves as individuals within an intimate relationship, and to rediscover the “other” fully. What is learned about the other, because of daring to risk being authentic, includes both darkness and light.
The shadows beneath the surface hide most of who we are, even from ourselves. As we become self-aware, a process that requires others, we are better able to see the others as who they really are. Unfortunately, with the projections withdrawn which allow us to see others as they are, we often find ourselves deciding that this “significant” other doesn’t fit well with our own newly discovered self. The result is typically divorce or keeping the relationship together with repressed anger, psychological barriers, and physical distance (no touching, separate bedrooms, etc.). However, for some like this couple, the exposed warts, scars and bruises both physical and psychological, that predate their union, as well as having grown out of unconscious reactions out of fear and anger, serve to cement the union because of honesty.
Some of us are “lucky” according to the majority who are jealous of what appears to be an evident happy union. Yes, we are lucky that we have dared honesty, dared being totally vulnerable to each other, and dared to hold with awe, the other in our hearts and lives.
Early morning light, as it pours into the house through venetian blinds created an effect that I had not anticipated, an almost blinding light on skin. After a few attempts to reduce the intensity of light, something emerged that had me stop. I thought I had accidentally stumbled upon an image of rudimentary art as shadows emerged. Light became the paint that was textured by shadows. Colour was barely hinted at because of the intensity of light.
Strange how what emerged was something that the eye couldn’t see though it existed none-the-less. Was the photo “photoshopped?” In this instance, I would say “No!” for nothing was added. It is more that what exists was simply being seen thought a different lens. When we change a lens, we get different results with what is seen. The same can be said for how a society “sees” naturists.
How do non-naturists really see those who adopt a worldview that includes ditching clothing when conditions warrant – warmth and safety? For the most part, without treading on each other’s territory, intruding into personal spaces, naturists are not seen. For the most part, “others” who are different are unseen as well. It is only when naturists are seen entering into the edges of personal space [which can be quite large for some people] that the non-naturists react out of an irrational fear. What they see is their own projections, not the reality that stands within sight. They only see through filters that were created by themselves as individuals and their collective [culture]. When they respond, react to the sight of naturists, their fear inspired anger colours their response even more so that reason retreats.
Knowing that this is the way it is, if there is to be a change in their response, it becomes the task of the naturists to somehow present themselves in a different light, one that reveals without threatening. How can naturists do this? I don’t know that answer though I am searching for it along with many others who simply want to be real people rather than holders of the projections of others.
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
Another of his priceless quotes:
“Strip the human race, absolutely naked, and it would be a real democracy. “
And yet another quote:
“There is no power without clothes. It is the power that governs the human race. Strip its chiefs to the skin, and no State could be governed; naked officials could exercise no authority; they would look (and be) like everybody else”
It is a very windy day here on the Canadian prairies. In a small way, this could be considered a good thing as it keeps the mosquitoes at bay, hidden in the grass. The sky is covered with a thin cloud haze which still allows sunshine to keep things warm. It was good enough for me to find a corner in my yard for my nude morning meditation.
Meditation is a vital part of my naturist practice. When thoughts appear to be running around without any concern for my own state of peaceful mind, I turn to meditation to still those rampant thoughts.
I have experimented with clothed meditation and nude meditation frequently over the years. That experimentation has led me to adopt the nude practice as the most favourable method. I practice a mindful meditation, one in which it is important to stay present rather than disappear into a trance-like state. Eyes slightly open, skin serving as a physical sensor, and hearing all working together to help keep me from falling down a rabbit hole where riotous fantasies, and chaotic thinking rule. Meditation, for me, isn’t a religious practice in terms of Buddhism, but more of a spiritual practice that is tied to my soul which has no links to any religious framework. For me, the open sky beneath the sun becomes my cathedral in which I find myself encompassed by the universe that is timeless and without boundaries.
I got to spend four days in the Eagle Hills near Battleford with my trailer parked at the home acreage of the man who is in charge of the Prairie Suns Nudist Club. On Friday, he took me on a hike through the Eagle Hills to the west of the acreage. Once we were away from traffic, we were able to doff the clothing and hike nude while we discussed all sorts of topics that were dear to his heart, especially Christianity and nudity.
On the acreage, while waiting for a naturist pot luck event set for Saturday afternoon and evening, B. and his wife, N. were great hosts. Somehow in the middle of nowhere, we had a solar heated pool and a hot tub for the cool mornings and evenings as amenities. It was too warm, the wrong season for putting the sauna to work.
Since I had somehow forgot to pack the power supply for my laptop, I was forced to enjoy the sunshine without interruption for most of the days that passed. It was the first time I had been to the acreage for a nude gathering without my wife. So, I had to make do with calls home in the morning and late evening to fill her in with my adventures and to find out how her days and nights had passed.
The pot luck was attended by eight people, a much smaller group that last year. I contributed to the pot luck by making a potato dish in the slow cooker – potatoes, bacon, onion and cheese. It was a recipe that my wife had suggested that I make for the event since it cooked while I was hiking without my worrying whether or not it would be undercooked or burnt. I don’t have the best attention span and get easily distracted.
That served to have the topic of how to meet the changing demographics if the club was to survive. I suggested that instead of focusing on getting members for the club, that the group create open-invitation events which would be clothing-optional. Art and nature photography, body-painting, writing camps for those interested in poetry or short stories, drawing classes for the human nude, and music camps for those interested in sharing their musical talents and perhaps picking up a few ideas from other musicians. Advertising events could take many forms and would hopefully create a larger network of prairie people who would come to share an interest in social naturism.
The naturist community is very friendly and accepting of others. I have met naturists of various ages from children to great grandparents. I have yet to find them to be judgemental about others regardless of body size and shape. It seems that with the clothes absent, there is a corresponding openness to relationship with others – that is unless there is a motivation on the part of one party for more than friendship. That is when things get complicated. But then again, that is the case regardless of whether one is wearing clothing or not.
M. and S. are friends of mine from one of the best naturist sites to be found. We have known each other for a few years and over that time have come to trust each other. There is a genuine acceptance of “other” in spite of differences that come with different countries and different interests.
Like me, they find the time and places where being out of their clothes is both safe and comfortable. Their home is as authentic as they are with gardening, gatherings of like-minded friends, and with joy as they do the work that is necessary to build a home. There is no apology needed to excuse their preferences to live as much as possible in their natural state. I am blessed with friends such as this couple.
In a few days, I am off to spend time with a different couple on an acreage where we will be clothing free as long as weather permits while out of doors. B. and N. have hosted us a few times with their annual spring naturist potluck BBQ. I get to take my camping trailer with us so that I can enjoy the freedom of life in the countryside au naturel.
As I walked along the beach today, our usual ten kilometre walk, I began to think of the bathing suits that were on display and why they were on display. Now I was wearing a bathing suit as well such as the one to the left displayed here with the exception that I was wearing the blue and red version of that Marcuse Champion swim brief. Of course my body doesn’t look like this twenty-something’s model’s body.
So why was I wearing this type of swim suit? Well, to tell the truth, basically it was because I “had” to wear some sort of bathing suit and it was the lightest, least constricting with ease of movement, bathing suit I could buy and wear without getting myself into some sort of legal trouble. If possible, I would have walked the beach with no bathing suit. But then again, that’s just me.
Of course, very few of the hundreds of males we saw on the beach this morning were wearing bikini swimsuits.
The normal choice was for baggy, just above the knee swim trunks. a number of men were wearing regular summer shorts suggesting that they were on their way to somewhere other than the beach, perhaps en route to the village for a meal or shopping. The younger, mostly very fit young men were wearing a version of swim trunks and board shorts with a name brand underwear band exposed just above the top of the swimsuit. “Why these choices?” I wondered to myself.
As for women, there were a fair number of bikinis in all styles from quite revealing to discrete versions. One-piece bathing suits were quite popular, perhaps more than half of the women were wearing a one-piece in front of various resorts along the beach. In front of the village, two-piece bathing suits were more prevalent. I guessed it had to do with comfort level in terms of what was exposed to the eyes of others. What surprised me was the number of women who had tops and wraps around their bathing suits as they enjoyed the beach. Wearing a bathing suit was one thing, letting others view their “exposed” body in those bathing suits was a different matter altogether. The use of one-piece bathing suits was not segregated by age group though more younger and “fit” women were wearing two piece suits than the older women. So why these choices?
When one thinks about it, no bathing suit is needed to actually swim unless one is competing at a level where a few hundredths of a second are often what separates winning and losing, time which becomes a factor of air resistance which includes the hair on one’s head. No bathing suit is needed to sunbathe. When there has been enough or even too much sunshine, a loose cover-up is better than any bathing suit. Bathing suits therefore become a article of clothing worn for a different reason than for swimming or sunbathing. It wasn’t that long ago that swim classes in schools and pools at the YMCA required no bathing suits to be worn. That practice changed in the sixties when women were finally allowed to use the pools.
The real reason for the exclusion of women was the assumption that athletics were not for women. And as for the requiring of bathing suits once women were allowed in the pool has to do with “Christian” values that saw women as moral problem because of their allure. Every women became a modern day Eve who would lead men into temptation if not controlled. I guess the same can be said for “Islamic” values as well. One good Christian site encourages the use of one-piece bathing suits in appropriate locations with an eye to not being provocative. The illustration above would be inappropriate as it is “inviting” and “suggestive” to men. Of course, it’s the women’s problem and fault if men get too excited.
Now, I am a man, and as a man, I take full responsibility for my thoughts and actions. Regardless of how a woman dresses, I am responsible for my response. That is what becoming a conscious male, a man, means – being self-responsible. I have been on nude beaches and at nude swimming pools and have seen female bodies without any bathing suit without having to wrestle with the temptation to have my way with these women and girls. Seeing a woman in a bathing suit or nude does not get a rise out of me, but I can’t say the same when looking at my wife. The circumstances of arousal then have nothing to do with material or lack of material. It has everything to do with the person and the relationship.
Our society has to stop apologising for men who have no sense of boundaries, and place the blame for their conduct on them rather than the women who frequently become the victims of these men. Parenting is a good place to start – teach your children well that a human body is naturally nude and that nudity is not a gateway behaviour to evil. Teach your children that all people, not just men, need to be treated with respect. Teach your children that they are responsible for what they do in life, that they can’t lay blame on someone else for their own inappropriate behaviours.
It is Friday and I’m already limiting my exposure to sunshine. The last thing I want to do is burn and I hate using sunscreen all the time. And no, I don’t spend all of my time indoors looking out as in this photo. The photo is to serve a different purpose.
I am lucky in comparison to so many who are trapped in their workspaces and living spaces by the weather. I remember looking out on sunny winter days when the temperature was harsh, longing for a bit of freedom to escape au naturel into the world.
At least I was clothing free in my home. The same can’t be said for so many who are trapped in their clothing, trapped by their minds that have embraced fear, or false norms of what it is to be a human. Some are so imprisoned that they even hide from themselves, denying themselves as though that would somehow grant them entry into some afterworld of pure light where everyone who makes it is swaddled in layers and layers of robes singing the praises of a god who has condemned most of humanity to eternal suffering. So, they practice being sexless, subservient denying the gift of their mind and their body and their gender and their instincts.
If one assumes there is a god, then that god created these human bodies, naked. He or she created bodies and minds and instincts. We have a story of that creation and in that story we are celebrated in our nudity. Our rejection of that nudity got us tossed out of that Garden, a paradise. So we created a different paradise based on our initial rejection of the Garden, a paradise where there is no way to differentiate gender, no temptation of body, no temptation by environment – we have a featureless paradise that is more cocoon that reward for living a good life. And then we redefine a good life to be one that is lived in fear and swallowed pride and anger where “self” is denied, where the “present” is denied.
And so we hide feeling empty, longing for freedom yet terrified that to engage fully in the world will damn us for eternity. We fear our god, we fear, we cower, we hide.
We are finally warm again. We arrived in Puerto Morelos yesterday just as the afternoon was edging into evening. No sooner had we dropped off our minuscule bit of luggage, we found ourselves walking a few blocks towards the centre of the town to eat out at a place called La Sirena with our landlady. We enjoyed a good meal on the second floor patio restaurant then headed back to our small home away from home. We were tired and knew we wouldn’t be staying awake too late – just time for wine and relaxation before crawling into our bed for a great night’s sleep.
There’s something to be said for returning to the same place when heading to a tropical destination to escape the cold winds and temperatures of winter. Foremost among the benefits is the fact that there is basically no adjustment period. Familiarity has one soon following habits and patterns already cultivated in that new environment. We knew that there would be the weekly farmers market this morning, just as we knew where to find that farmers market. Now, our refrigerator is stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables.
After shopping, we headed out for a two hour stroll down the beach. We decided to walk our usual eight kilometres – four out and four back – a stroll that took us past various resorts including Pearl Desire, a nudist resort with a clothing-optional beach. Strangely, few people on the beach or on the lounge chairs were nude. Most were discretely covered, a contrast from the past several years we have been making this stroll. I wonder what has changed?
Before heading back to our studio suite, we went into the Sea for another half of an hour. Initially the water was cold, but we soon adjusted to the temperature as I relished being bathing suit free once I was in chest deep water. Even though we were in the public sector of the beach, once in the water, I always remove the swimsuit and use it as a wristband. Finally, hunger drove us to return to the suite and make a vegetable stir fry. Now, it is relaxation time before we head into the centre of town for a community celebration. I am lucky in that I can spend most of this relaxation time in my birthday suit.