Life Without Pockets

David
Michelangelo’s David

In my middle years, it became increasingly clear to me that the things that worked for me in my younger life just weren’t serving me anymore. I didn’t plummet headlong into a mid-life crisis. But I found that, despite having a good job and a lot of freedom, I was depressed, anxious and alone. I had spent years in a kind of induced coma maintained by booze and any other soporific at hand. I travelled widely soaking up new experiences, but along with the contents of my suitcase I was always lugging along the same emotional baggage with me wherever I went. So as I moved from country to country with various jobs, each time I unpacked I was decorating my new life with the same old trappings that I should have discarded years ago. I wasn’t conscious of this at the time, but the voice inside eventually became so deafening that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. This site is a response to that voice.

Ridding myself of old habits that were long past their sell-by dates is just part of the process. Aristotle said ‘nature abhors a vacuum’. Finding new ‘habits’ and new ways to be in the world is essential to fill the spaces left in my life and soul by the shedding of the old ways. One of the pathways that has helped liberate me from my past has been embracing a naturist lifestyle. Naturism for me is not just about shedding my clothes. It is about shedding all of those complexes and inhibitions that weigh me down, and impede my development as an individual. It is a very liberating and even spiritual experience. And contrary to what many people may think, it has nothing to do with sex. It is also simply a wonderful feeling to be free and naked in the great outdoors.

I’m a newcomer to naturism, and one comical observation I have made is that when one is not used to being naked in front of other people, it’s hard to know what to do with your hands sometimes. There are no pockets to shove them into. No mobile phone to keep them occupied. When I’m completely comfortable being naked in front of other people without wondering where to put my hands, I will have progressed both as a naturist and an individual. I guess pockets are also a metaphor for all of those things I carry around with me that I think I need – phone, keys, money. Well, I do need them sometimes. But not all the time. So being naked is also an opportunity to rid myself of those worldly attachments, for a while at least.

This site is about my journey as I navigate this middle passage of my life, which includes embracing naturism, nurturing my soul through meditation and mindfulness, and analysing and recording the process through poetry. Although the poetry can be accessed on a separate page, I decided to also make it available on the homepage with the blogs. For me, the poems are expressions of my thoughts at the time they were written, just as the blogs are. Only in a different form. Constructive commentary on both are welcome.

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Breathing Out

BloggingIt’s been a strange couple of weeks. A lot of reading, writing, and trying to be naked when possible. The weather never gets too cold here. The houses have no heating systems during June and July, the winter season. It’s colder indoors during the day than it is outside. From Monday to Friday, when I’m working, I wear my ‘daily uniform’ during the day. Then enjoy allowing my body to breathe in the evening time at home, unless it gets too cold.

The weekends are when I get to breathe out. I’m lucky enough to have a back garden with high enough walls to afford me privacy from the neighbours. But just at the back. I place a wicker chair and table in the back garden, where I can feel the warm sun on my skin, or move into the shade under the trees if it gets too hot.

I have a worker in the garden, who usually helps me to bring the furniture out. Then he tends to hang around the front garden, keeping a bit of distance. For some weeks I’ve wondered if he realises I’m naked back there, and whether he cares.

From my sacred spot at the back, I often go back and forth to the kitchen to fetch things from the house. At first, I was always careful to put on my shorts in case I ran into him, but I found this to be a bit of an inconvenience and gradually stopped.

Yesterday, as I came out of the house naked, my worker was coming along the side of the house. Well, the cat’s definitely out of the bag now I thought, as my bare backside made its way to my happy place in the back garden. However, I was conscious that my nudity might make him uncomfortable. A short while later, my phone rang. I recognised his number. He just needed to tell me something but didn’t want to invade my privacy I guess. This made me feel a bit uncomfortable, so I decided to be honest with him.

Later that afternoon, now wearing shorts, I told him – by the way, when I’m at home I like to be naked. It feels good to me, especially to be in the sun in the garden. It’s natural and just feels more comfortable to me. If you need me for something, just come and get me. You don’t need to phone. Before I could really get the words out, he said – no problem! Sure. It’s fine.

In a previous post, I wrote about how wonderful a feeling it is when people pleasantly surprise us. Make us realise that our assumptions and worries were unnecessary. Now it has happened again. My concerns were unfounded, and my worker pleasantly surprised me. Showed me that he is open-minded and doesn’t see anything wrong with me being naked and natural in my own garden.

Today he needed something from me so he came to the kitchen door at the side of the house. I fetched what he needed and brought it out to him – naked. As I sit here writing this, naked in my back garden, I’m carrying one less unfounded worry. One less piece of baggage inside. I feel like I’m breathing out.

Poetry

Morning

gray asphalt road in between brown orange leaf trees during daytime

I wake

Cold notes

Enter my ears

Twittering of birds

In the eaves

In their morning conversation

 

I rise reluctantly

Shedding the warm comfort

Of blankets

 

Crisp bedroom air

Rubs against my naked skin

As I tiptoe

To the bathroom

And back

Eyes still half-closed

Crawl under still-warm blankets

Clinging to remnants of dreams

 

Involuntary stirrings

Grip my loins

As blood, oxygen and dreams

Shake themselves loose

And press against the mattress

 

A first few lambent rays

Sneak in

At curtains-edge

Soon

The sun will overpower

This fading cold

 

An indifferent neighbour

Will drown out the sacred silence

With a careless radio

 

In the garden

Birds will continue to chatter

Argue and insist

And I will fall

In and out of dreams

Until naked inside and out

I will be forced to rise

And greet the day

 

In the shower

Drops of water

Will trap the sunlight

Entering from above

Through the small square window

As they splash

In slow motion

Against my skin

 

Then

I will swaddle myself

In the day’s uniform

And wink at my reflection

Concealed behind layers

In the bathroom mirror

 

Over breakfast

I will arrange my daily choices

Painting pictures in my mind

Of the day ahead

Suspecting within

That each day is an involuntary stirring.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Although I live in a warm climate in Africa, opportunities to be naked outdoors are very limited. My own garden doesn’t offer much privacy as people passing on the main road can see right in. So most of the time, I’m confined to being naked indoors, which is OK, but just not the same. I miss the feeling of warm sun on my skin, and the direct contact between my bare skin and the earth.

This week, I was out of town for work at a lodge by a lake with sandy shores. In the late afternoons, if the work ended early enough, I would plunge into the lake, which is vast, warm and refreshing. When the work went later, this wasn’t an option as the mosquitoes emerge in droves at dusk and this is a malaria zone.

It was my last day by the lake before returning to the hustle and bustle and noise of the city. For some reason, I woke up at about 5AM, much earlier than I was planning to rise. I rolled over in the bed but was just not falling back to sleep. Eventually, I peeked out through the curtains to see that the sun was rising, and decided to head down to the beach for an early morning swim and maybe to take a few photos.

Morning TrafficI was the first one up in the lodge and had to get the guard to unlock the gate leading down to the beach. It was still very early but the traffic of locals walking up and down the beach was busy. People rise very early here. Many fishermen setting out in their boats, children with their schoolbags already making the long trek to school, some people jogging on the beach, and many others starting about their daily business. For the communities living by the lake, the beach shore is their main thoroughfare.

As I walked along the shore, I wasn’t holding out much hope that I would find a discreet place to sit and be naked and enjoy the beautiful sunrise and view of the lake. After walking some distance, I set my towel down under a tree on a dune back from the shore. People here are very friendly and most waved to me (the white guy) as they passed by, coming from both directions along the shore. When there were some lulls in the traffic, I took advantage to remove my shorts. I even managed to take a few photos of myself naked enjoying the beautiful morning. Whenever I saw people approaching, I covered up – not out of modesty, but so as to avoid offending anyone. This is quite a conservative country.

Early Morning by the LakeHowever, at times people emerged from behind dunes and bushes, whom I didn’t notice until they were already quite close. Then they would pass by and wave as I sat there naked, although sitting in a discreet pose. And then I realised – they really weren’t all that bothered. They were getting on with their morning business, and if I was sitting there naked admiring the view, well … whatever. Good for me.

I had made the assumption that the sight of a naked white man sitting by the shore in the early morning would offend or shock passers-by. It was a wonderful feeling to suddenly realise that, not only were the people passing by friendly, but they also appeared to be carefree. None of them paid much attention to me, other than to wave and smile. And then I remembered the Four Agreements of Don Miguel Ruiz from his book of the same name. Number 3: Don’t make assumptions!

Poetry

A New Forest

green leaf tree beside mountain with cloudy sky

I see you

I see your strength

That female power

That birthed and raised six kids

 

I see your vulnerability too

As you watch Gibran’s arrow fly

To places your mystery

Will never reach

 

A fledgling in the nest

I waited

As you came and went

Waited and worried

That you might not return

But you always did

 

And each time

I witnessed the tragedy of your return

As you perched

In the only way you knew how

In the only way you’d ever learned

At bough’s end

Just out of reach

There, yet not there

Across an aching distance

Until finally, on half-formed wings

I turned and flew away

 

Decades have come and gone

And every woman

Whose lips I’ve kissed

I’ve loved a while

Then manoeuvred deftly

To the end of that branch

To that safe distance

Until, from the idiot solitude

Of an empty nest

I watched them fly away

 

I see you still

Perched there

Your back now turned

To that empty nest

Where I waited and fretted

I fly by sometimes

To check that you’re still there

Knowing that soon enough

The nest

The branch

The tree

Will all be gone

 

But I will not wait that long

To be buried under the falling leaves

I will search

Among the shadows and the light

Within my soul

For a new branch

A new tree

A new forest.

Poetry

This Way

silhouette of man watching golden hour

I found myself alone

Without a moon

Without a mate

Naked and alone

I listened in the silence

The rare, rare silence

For a whisper to guide me in the dark

But heard only the soft cycle

Of my mind

 

I thought of my childhood

And tensed inside

As always

At remembering so little

Shouldn’t I remember more?

 

I thought of my adolescence

Which never really ended

But started at age 14

On a ship to France

With sun and white wine

And friends and laughter

A golden day and time

When everything was in balance

And I was indivisible

From the warm rays

That bathed us all.

 

I still walk the decks of that ship sometimes

Searching among empty wine bottles

For yesterday’s friends

And the secret to so much laughter

Though I am now the only passenger

And the sea has quenched the sun.

 

And now

Across a bridge of years

Unable to turn back

With neither sun nor moon

To light my way

I wait in silence

In rare, rare silence

For a whisper from within

To say ‘this way’.