NUDISM, NATURISM, GYMNOSOPHY, AND BODY FREEDOM
NAKED IN NATURE
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NAKED IN NATURE
BY SHANE STEINKAMP
I invite you to consider it. It is, after all, your natural state. This is my usual diatribe on the subject. Some people like to hike naked, hike nude, and hike natural. Some people swim, sunbathe, and roll in the grass. If you never try it, you won't know what you're missing.
I shall lead off, of course with, Peter Matthiessen, and continue from there: "Soon the child's clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers."
I wish there were a twelve step program for people addicted to clothing. Addicted to denying their very humanity. To lift something from Lawrence Langner, "Many of today's styles [of clothing] are deliberately designed to dress our psyche rather than to conceal our bodies. . [T]he very thought of being naked, except in our most intimate moments, so embarrasses most of us that we still call on our lawmakers to protect us from viewing others in such a state. We seem to exhibit a phobia about nakedness that was not present in earlier civilizations - a phobia that serves to keep us from accepting ourselves as we really are. We behave as if only a clothed person is a complete person. A naked person minus his clothes is lacking some important part of himself. Yet, we are all aware that human babies start life completely naked. If a naked child is complete and perfect, then regardless of the child's sex, education, wealth, race, religion, or cultural inheritance, that child will remain naked for the rest of its life. Those items of clothing or adornment which he or she decides are proper or fit to wear in order to adapt to a socially and/or sexually acceptable norm are added - extra - covering the real person who exists inside them. [In] this technological age of central heating and air conditioning we still continue to wear clothes, even on the most informal occasions when it would be more comfortable and far easier for us to go naked. We are, in fact, addicted to clothing." This is obviously unhealthy. Dr. Robert Henley Woody writes, "fear of revealing one's body is a defense. To keep clothing on at all times when it is unnecessary for social protocol or physical comfort is to armor oneself in a manner that will block new behaviors that could introduce more healthful and rewarding alternatives; and promote psychological growth."
Of course, rather than quoting academics, maybe I should be quoting the mystics: "Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! --ah if poor, sick, prurient humanity in cities might really know you once more! Is not nakedness then indecent? No, not inherently. It is your thought, your sophistication, your fear, your respectability that is indecent. There come moods when these clothes of ours are not only too irksome to wear, but are themselves indecent. Perhaps indeed he or she to whom the free exhilarating ecstasy of nakedness in Nature has never been eligible (and how many thousands there are!) has not really known what purity is--nor what faith or art or health really is." - Walt Whitman, "A Sun-Bath--Nakedness" in "Specimen Days"
Of course, then there is the old favorite, "We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense. It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other. ... To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough. ... In wildness is the preservation of the world." - Henry David Thoreau, Walking
Who can argue with Henry?
Of course, Muir had his moment in the sun, so to speak, as well, "The body seems to feel beauty when exposed to it as it feels the campfire or sunshine, entering not by the eyes alone, but equally through all one's flesh like radiant heat, making a passionate ecstatic pleasure glow not explainable." - John Muir
I really hope that one day you can recover from your gymnophobia. For further help, please see Are You Broken?
OH! That reminds me! I think Mr. Whitman wrote you a note some time ago and gave it to me to keep for you... Let's see... Ah, yes... Here it is. Shall I read it to you?
"I celebrate myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loaf and invite my soul, I lean and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. My tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, I, now thirty seven years old in perfect health begin, Hoping to cease not till death. Creeds and schools in abeyance, Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, Nature without check with original energy. Houses and rooms are full or perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it, The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.
"The atmosphere is not a perfume it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, It is for my mouth forever....I am in love with it, I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, I am mad for it to be in contact with me. The smoke of my own breath, Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark- color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, The sound of the belch'd words of my voice loos'd to the eddies of the wind, A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag, The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hillsides, The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
"Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much? Have you practis'd so long to learn to read? Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
"Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self."
"What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed?" - Michelangelo
Oh... and if that ain't enough for you... "Take a chance."
For further reading, try This is My Body.
Shane Steinkamp - April 21, 2004