3 branches of nudity: the sex, the hunt and the vulnerability

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I have recently been on a journey. Not a journey as traveling from place to place, but rather a sort of inner journey. I’m still on that journey, so think of this as the story from my inner travels, or even better yet – part of that journey.

Among other things I’ve been trying to figure out what actually made me like being naked. Is it really just pure freedom of expression of my own humanity, or is there something more (or something else) to it? For clearly, one could argue that nothing is more an expression of humanity than distinguishing oneself from animals as much as possible, by doing what no other animal does – wearing clothing (poodles that wear sweaters notwithstanding).

The distinguishing physical characteristic of humans among other animals is our brain and regarding mental capacities, our ability to form abstract concepts. So there is some validity to such an expression. We make clothing as a tool that protects our bodies from the elements of environments they are not equipped to deal with using exactly this ability (among with other abilities, such as hand dexterity, eye-limb coordination, etc. which are not really our distinguishing characteristics). So yes, we can say that we express our being human by making clothing, by making tools, cars, houses, skyscrapers, cities, culture… civilization.

But I would argue that by going this far in building our civilization, it is easy to forget that we are still animals, that millions of years of evolution have happened which ultimately gave us the body which carries with it certain requirements. Besides the obvious requirements, such as food, water, sunlight, etc. there are other requirements that we deprive ourselves and our offspring of by means of this civilization that we build. Science has only recently begun to research the effects of lack of physical touch on babies and concluded that babies in fact need much of skin-to-skin contact in order for their brains to develop normally. That is the civilization-erecting brains that they will ultimately need in order to exist within the already existing civilization and then to make their own contribution.

So it is false to claim that we are celebrating our humanity to the highest degree if we wrap our bodies in an impenetrable cocoon of whatever material is the rage of the age. Our body demands touch from the earliest age, or it will malfunction somehow and the malfunction will not be obvious, but it will be there. And since it will be there, it will somehow ultimately manifest itself, be it in the form of an adult who is unable to care for himself, or an adult who believes he must take what he has not earned, or who must destroy, or who must listen to others for guidance, or who must follow others into certain death, to war, to destruction…

We will not, of course, prevent this malfunction simply by providing skin-to-skin contact to our offspring in their earliest childhood, but it is one small step in the right direction. There are other things our bodies need; there are things even that our souls need in order for us to develop from children into freedom and peace loving individuals.

This is why my journey began in my childhood. The truth is that I had a really bad childhood. And don’t get me wrong, I know of people who have had it so bad that my own childhood would look blissful in comparison. But I believe each of us owes it to ourselves that we label things as they are. My journey was about my own childhood, the things I had to cope with during my childhood, ways I learned to cope, etc. Back then I had no point of reference to other people’s childhoods, there was only my own and it was my reality and I didn’t like it – not at the time, not later, not today, not ever.

I mentioned skin-to-skin contact above for a reason. There was a severe lack of it in my own childhood. There was so much lack of it that the first time I was touched gently that I can remember was by another boy, a year older than myself, in a barn, when I was about 7, or 8 years old. He touched me with his lips and his tongue. On my penis. And I loved it!

I loved it so much, in fact, that I kept returning for more. I wanted desperately to repeat that first experience, that gentle touch, thinking that that is the only way that anyone ever needs to touch me for me to be happy. It was not an orgasmic sensation and I have only much later discovered that the same sensation can be achieved by gently touching other body parts that are much less private and much less erogenous – like thighs, or the neck, or the back – sometimes I would even feel it if someone would accidentally brush against me as I walked through a crowd. But I could not erase the fact that the first time I ever felt this sensation was when this boy asked me to “play sex” with him (and then I didn’t even know what “sex” was, let alone that there was some other use of my penis besides peeing).

I kept returning for more. It was not just the touch that my body needed, it was also the attention. My parents’ attention was rarely fully devoted to me. They would never help me with the problems I was facing as a child and would instead brush them aside as inconsequential and irrelevant. The only times that I had their undivided attention was when they delivered “lectures”, when I had done something “wrong” and was expected to explain myself (with an implicit understanding that no explanation is good enough), or when they delivered beatings (which weren’t as frequent as lectures, but still a looming threat). As such, being the center of someone’s attention has never proven to be very beneficial to me during my childhood. Quite the opposite, in fact, and this is why I believe I suffered such severe social anxiety that my fight-or-flight instincts switched on every time I suddenly became the center of someone’s attention all the way into my late twenties.

And then there was this boy, who had given me undivided attention and a pleasurable experience, all in one – something I could then not even conceive of. How could I not beg for more? He, however, grew tired of it all rather quickly and began making me run naked across the lawn, promising that attention and tenderness after I do it “just once more”. Desperate and naive, I kept complying again and again until this was stopped by my mother barging into our secluded spot, picking me up naked and all and parading me, crying, through the village, naked.

It was not until at least eight years later that I began looking for hidden places in the woods, where, completely subconsciously, I began doing the exact same things that that boy would ask me to do – put my clothes on backwards, tie them in some silly way, run across the lawn naked, then jog, then walk casually – promising my “reward” afterwards. It may have been that my subconscious was looking for some kind of normal closure to what had been happening since that day when he first asked me if I would like to “play sex” by somehow urging that I go through the motions of his demands and see what happened as a result. Of course, nothing would happen. Being alone then, this could not have brought any kind of closure.

As time went by, these expeditions started having two distinct purposes. On some days, the motives were of purely sexual nature – I was in the full rage of puberty then, after all, and all alone thanks to my social anxiety. On other days, something different began to emerge. I started liking being naked for the sake of being naked. Or so it seemed.

I would only notice a different pattern as I read Stefan Molyneux’s “The Art of the Argument” recently. This too was part of my journey, as is this text. In that book, there is a passage that reads thus:

[The hunter] is dealing in absolutes – the deer, the gun, the kill – while the deer is dealing with probabilities. What are the odds that the sound is a predator, or just a rabbit, or the wind, or a tree branch creaking? The deer can’t run every time it hears a sudden sound, but it must stay alert.

This short description of what a deer feels like all the time as it’s potentially being hunted by a predator is a very precise definition of what I felt almost every time that I set foot in the woods without my clothes on. I was the deer, and everyone else was the hunter. I had no way of knowing whether anyone was there, how they would react if they found me, if they would have children with them and if I would then be accused of some kind of harassment, or some other horrible thing, of their children just for being naked. I may have had completely innocent reasons to be naked, but who is to say they would have cared about my reasons?

This feeling – the fear of being hunted – is another emotion that was prevalent in my childhood. I was never to be “caught” doing something good, but whenever I was doing something that guaranteed screaming lectures, beatings, or rhetorical questions about my innocence being doled out, or any combination thereof, it was better that I was on a lookout. By going naked I emotionally put myself back into that position that I knew so well from my childhood. None of this was planned, it’s just a way that our subconscious works, I suppose, by evoking in us the emotional states it is familiar with, by somehow influencing our behavior. Since children require attention from their parents, they will – and this is a fact of developmental psychology – do things that bring them any kind of attention, positive or negative. If the reaction is positive, the child may have learned something new; if it is negative, the provocation still succeeded in reaching some sort of closure, e.g. the child has refined his skill to manipulate his parents by means of his own behavior and will most likely similarly manipulate others in the future.

Being naked for me is, therefore, putting myself in a situation that is familiar to me. There is, however, another aspect – like a third branch that grows from the same bud. That day, when I stood naked before the boy, I put myself in a very vulnerable position. For all I knew, the “game” of sex might have been a bloody one, like the games the ancient Romans were watching for fun in their arenas. Because I was in a position of the player of that game, rather than its spectator, I was in a vulnerable position from that moment until it was all ended so abruptly.

I find that I am even now in a similarly vulnerable position as I write publicly about some of the things that I have kept hidden for so long from everyone, from my parents, from my friends, from my own wife, from the world in general and even from myself. But I also find that without exposing this vulnerability I am unable to move on. It seems to me as if this aspect of my personality will always be returning to that boy in the barn, yearning for his touch, his caress, hoping for it as I play his games, skipping naked in the forest, across lawns, doing everyday chores in the nude… and I would never realize if all this I do just for him, or if there truly is something more to it all.

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Dark ages

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“Well, that was an awful experience!” Andy said.

Nobody else said a word, they simply agreed silently, each with the slightest of nods.

“And to think! People used to live that way! How could they stand it?”

No response.

“It must have felt like spending your life in a jail cell – never leaving – all the while being in the possession of the key.”

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Money

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Today’s topic might seem a bit off-topic for a nudist blog, but bear with me. Today I want to talk to you about money.

What is money? How does someone make money and why don’t they make m0re of it?

Many of us use it daily without fully understanding it, or without understanding it at all beyond how much of it they need for their day-to-day expenses.

So, here’s a thought – a truth at that – that will blow your mind:

Money is time.

Continue reading

A practical idea

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I’m sitting at a cafe right now, trapped by a thunderstorm and heavy rain. I left my umbrella in the car, but I don’t think it would do me much good either way. So as I’m thinking about ordering some hot chocolate and using this time to work, I get this rather neat idea.

I have no problem with the cold or the rain. In fact, even in this dreadful weather I’m sitting in this cafe barefoot and in my normal summer attire (though I do admit I was caught off-guard by this rain). The only reason I’m trapped here is because I don’t want to get wet. If I get wet it will take me a long time to dry. Having wet clothes sticking onto my skin is very uncomfortable. However…

What if I had no wet clothes sticking onto my wet skin?

I could take all my clothes off, stuff them into a waterproof bag I have with me, then run across the park in the rain to my car. Upon reaching the car I could take the umbrella out of the trunk and throw it on the back seat of the car, jump into the driver’s seat, turn the car on, turn up the heating, dry off, then put my clothes back on. Taking the umbrella with me I could then slip out of the car and walk the remaining short distance to work without getting too wet.

But alas, that is not the kind of society we live in. Many practical things are frowned upon if they break social convention. Going completely naked in public, even in this weather where no part of the public actually is in public places, would probably get me in jail – if not immediately, then after someone files a report of some sort. Even if in some convoluted scenario going naked would save my life, it would still be frowned upon.

I’m an atheist, but… God forbid that someone should see a human being.

So here I am, trapped. The situation is somewhere between symbolism and analogy, really. The clothes make me feel trapped when I wear them. Now I’m trapped in this place because of them. The rain is still falling. And here comes my hot chocolate.

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The time of the fireflies

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I stand on the crossroads of my life. I will not bore you with the details of where each path goes, however. It is not what I wish to say here. Instead, I wish to share with you the way I prepare myself for the choice and the path ahead, for wherever I turn it is going to be difficult.

I walk barefoot. I don’t remember the last time I put on shoes. I believe it was when I attended a wedding. Living a barefoot lifestyle is energizing all in itself. By the mere act of adopting it I have taught myself to not be ashamed of my choices, to assert myself and my own ways of thinking, and to stop and learn instead of blush in shame and hide in a hole when I find that my way of thinking is inadequate in certain situations. To walk barefoot among the shod makes me feel in control of myself and my life.

But this is not enough for my current predicament.

Back when I used to wear shoes every day, the way I’d recharge my batteries was by taking a long walk. I’d go and walk a huge distance, sometimes of over 20 km, in a single night. At first my mind would wander. Then it would stop wandering because it had wandered in every possible direction. And then I would focus. I’d forget where I was going and my legs would just take me places while my head was headed straight for a solution. Normally I’d come back home so tired I’d simply crash out, but I’d wake up with a solution to whatever was bugging me.

This time it’s different. I have paths to take and it’s clear where each path would take me. I can see clearly the consequences of each path, and although there is in places a possibility of severe consequences, there is nothing I couldn’t handle. I know it. But I know also that to walk the path I had already chosen, I need to get my mind off of things for just one moment.

It has been a long time since I wrote my last post, owing to the fact that I’d become a father and it’s been more work than I anticipated. But it wasn’t the fatherhood that was difficult. It was … many other things.

A firefly is a curious thing. It barely illuminates anything, yet it is such joy to see one in the midst of darkness. You can feel as if it would guide you through it, but really it just goes on its merry way. I saw at least three as I was taking off my clothes in the woods at dusk. It was to be a walk on the more secluded paths in the forests of my home village. I was hoping to exit the forest at the lake by nightfall, then proceed to the other side of the lake and towards a neighboring village, where I’d be putting my clothes back on before entering it. It would be about an hour of walking naked.

Nudity is also energizing, though not in the same way as being barefoot. Nudity in public is a taboo – one that, thankfully, some small groups of people do not share – so I don’t practice it, except in those small groups. Nudity is often related to the feelings of freedom and simplicity, but also to frailty. All creatures are born naked and few things are as fragile as new life. Yet I find strength within it, especially when faced with the elements.

And so I tuck the modest clothes I had chosen to wear into my satchel and I continue barefoot and naked – except for the satchel and my wedding ring – down the path into the ever darker forest. I see fireflies in the grass and in the bushes. Others are flying freely before they surely tumble down once I pass them by. It was quite dark when I exited the forest onto the first of three meadows I was to cross before I finally clear the woods. The path through the next patch of woods was muddy and slippery, but I managed to get through.

On the very exit of the woods, there were two huge puddles of water over the entire road. I don’t like walking barefoot over puddles in the woods. As nice as it feels, there’s always a chance for something nasty to be lodged in the mud, that could cut my feet, or worse. These places are basically breeding grounds for fungal spores, bacteria and such, so walking over them with a wound on my feet would be crazy.

So I tread carefully. Test the bottom with my foot before placing my weight on it, rinse and repeat with the other foot, until I’m out of the puddle. And voilla, I’m out of the woods. I pass the spooky old ruin of a house and turn left on the gravel road leading toward the lake.

Sometimes when I walk like this I like to put my things away in a safe place somewhere. That place I then call my “stash”. The problem with the stash – aside from the incredibly unlikely event of someone stumbling upon it in the middle of the night and taking my clothes and the key to my home – is that I need to get back to it to retrieve it. That’s fine if I plan to return the same way that I got there, but that wasn’t my plan today.

I don’t plan to ever return to my crossroad, but I do plan to return “home”, wherever it may be.

So, this time, I don’t stash and I keep my satchel on me at all times. Some time later I’m walking on a path I thought I knew, but which has changed significantly. Trees have grown considerably here since the last time I walked this way. It’s almost like a completely new place. And then the path turns uphill and at the top I can see the village.

I turn around and I see light in the woods. It’s my old friend’s father’s shack that’s lit, hidden nicely away from the rest of the world. We used to celebrate his birthdays there and I remember the last time I was there I left his shack, took my clothes off at the gate and continued home naked. I don’t go there now because even though I can see it, it’s quite a long way off, and in the wrong direction. That’s not where I go from my crossroad. I go towards my fireflies.

I approach the village naked. As close as I can without risking being seen. I don’t think anyone would raise ruckus over it as long as the children are not around (they should be sleeping anyway, it’s now past 11pm), but I really don’t need a distraction and an energy drain of this sort right now. I drop my satchel on the ground, take my clothes out and continue as if I hadn’t done anything out of the ordinary.

I like being out of the ordinary. It’s daring and exciting and dangerous. Being ordinary is safe and boring and … well … ordinary. One can learn a lot by choosing to be unordinary, which he would otherwise not learn.

I now walk on the road I hadn’t walked in a long time. Five new homes have been built there since the time I last took the time to notice. I walk through the village and I’m back in the woods. Only this time on asphalt. As boring as asphalt feels to bare feet, it is a welcome relief from the difficult and – in the darkness – invisible terrain in the woods and around the lake.

Fireflies are there again. I hold one in the palm of my hand and I feel how fragile it is. I carry it for some time. It illuminates a small area around itself as I set it down gently. And I know that the path I have chosen on my crossroad is right, for all I need to do is follow my fireflies – my beloved wife, my wonderful son, and whoever is meeting us around the beginning of December this year. They are the joyful creatures that I like seeing in the darkness of the sea of all the wrong choices. I would just as well hold them in the palm of my hand to keep them from harm looming from the other paths of my crossroad.

Geocaching

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When I first heard of geocaching I was puzzled about why I haven’t heard about it before. I used to play Ingress and found it rather dull because it meant frequenting the same uninteresting locations over and over, and one of the main reasons I quit was because I never liked walking on the same path too often. Once was a thrill, twice was alright, but three times was a nuisance, especially if it was on the same day. Continue reading

Barefoot as a lifestyle

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One of the things that never struck me as odd was the fact that many nudists – my past self included – rarely remove footwear. Even Stephen Gough – the Naked Rambler – used to walk around in massive hiking shoes. Now, you could argue many points against going barefoot and you’d probably be right at least in part. However, now that I’ve discovered the joys of going barefoot – my initial injury notwithstanding (!) – and now that I’ve discovered how to go about barefoot and stay safe from injuries – I can’t but feel puzzled about why I never went barefoot while I was naked in public (at nude beaches, camps and such). Continue reading

What’s a nudist without a nudist beach?

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The summer trip to the sea is finally over. Yes, finally. Can you imagine being on an island – that is – a chunk of land surrounded by the sea – with no beaches allowing nude swimming? It’s like being at the cinema and being required to look at the floor instead of the screen, allowing you only to hear the movie. Continue reading

Naked in the rain

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Lately I’ve been missing being naked anywhere other than my house. Yes, I’ve been exploring and experimenting with being barefoot and I’ve even joined SBL, but I’ve been restricting nudity to indoors only. Some of this is due to me becoming a dad and having no time to get outside, but mainly it’s because someone would cause a nasty scene if I were to appear outside naked in broad daylight. I do, after all, spend a lot of time outside, except I’m clothed.

So I only get to be naked outside after nightfall, when my wife and son are both tucked in and after I put the diapers in the washing machine and the dishes in the dishwasher. Even then I often pass the pleasure because I’m usually so tired I could easily put diapers in the dishwasher, or just put everything altogether in the drier and be none the wiser about what I’ve done until morning when I’ll be needing my largest cup for my daily dose of caffeine. Continue reading

A den of hungry lions

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I’ve realized recently something about myself. There was a party and I separated from the main event with my wife and some of my friends. I used that moment to take off my shoes and be barefoot for a while. My wife and most of my friends know about me going barefoot (it was pretty difficult to hide after the injury and besides, I realized that there’s no point in hiding it), so there were no objections. Continue reading