“Most people don’t know how to listen because the major part of their attention is taken up by thinking. They pay more attention to that than to what the other person is saying, and none at all to what really matters: the Being of the other person underneath the words and the mind.” – Echkart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
I received some difficult news last night. That’s all I’ll say about that, but I’ll return to its significance in a moment.
Earlier in the day, my attention was drawn to Twitter conversations about the value / threat of clothing optional venues and approaches, a discussion that has come and gone frequently like ocean tides on a crazy day since I’ve started clothes free living. As often happens in the conversations, the arguments drilled down to the nitty gritty of which clothing items pose the most threat and why. The rules and philosophies concerning naturism and nudism were debated. Twitter lit up.
I remember when my mom and I went to Hippie Hollow in Austin, Texas. At that clothing optional location, mom wore a tank top and shorts, I walked around naked, and I saw all manner of combinations, even a guy wearing a white t-shirt, socks and shoes but no pants – penis directly connected to fresh air. I also remember going to a clothing optional festival with a friend this summer where most people remained clothed, be we and a handful of others walked about clothes free. People chatted with us just fine. There was also the visit to Gunnison Beach, clothing optional, with some people clothed, some not, and everyone enjoying their time.
It’s interesting having these lived experiences of sharing social public clothing optional contexts with mutual respect, friendliness, camaraderie and conversation with family and strangers, and then see the philosophy and rules debated online. Of course, my experiences are not the only kinds of lived experiences. In some cases, people have expressed that they prefer to be in an environment where most, if not all, others are nude before trying clothes freedom for themselves. All of these are lived experiences and honestly expressed preferences.
What alerts me, though, is the insistence on the rules, the claims that clothing optional is a threat, and that clothes are the cause of unwanted behavior. It was interesting to see that many in the online space are advocating, not for simply a world where social naturism / nudism can be legal and respected as a way of life as an option, but rather a world in which everyone is forced to be nude as a condition of respect, acceptance and relationship. It would seem, from those arguments, that homogeneity is required in order for people to respect and interact with others.
The difficult news that I received last night made me think about my relationship with my mom. The news was not about her, but it made me reflect on how much I value what we have. She and I have been through so much together. No matter what, we have always respected and supported each other. These days, our time spent together is clothing optional: she wears clothes, I don’t. We both understand and respect each other, and moreover, we laugh. We talk about everything in our lives. The news last night made me think about, well, if and when I should lose her. To be honest, I don’t care if she never decides to run around naked outside. I do care that we respected and loved each other and had a beautiful, vibrant relationship. I care that we were able to be together, even though we didn’t choose the same things. I don’t remember what she looks like naked and the rules don’t matter to me, but I know I’ll never forget how much she loves me and how much I love her. And I’ll always remember how we are together, sitting side by side, just being ourselves.
I count myself lucky: I’ve shared my clothes freedom with people I love, whether all parties were naked or not. Many are not able to even have permission, let alone someone with whom to share it. I want legality for nonsexual clothes free living and for mutual respect to come with that. I don’t care if everyone gowns naked or not; I’m more interested in people having the right and respect to make honest choices and be true to themselves. Mandatory nudity should not be a condition of my respect for others, and I have seen that I am strong enough to make my choice even if most people in a given context are clothed. So, getting the legal permission would be a huge win, and with that respect.
And joy and connection on top of that? Ah, that would be a gift, the icing on the cake. Joy.
Mom and I aren’t both naked, but we sit side by side, laughing. I value that relationship much more than petty rules.