The Naked Truth

Snake Oil
Clark Stanley, Public Domain

One of the traits many claim regarding naturism is how open and honest naturists are. It’s thought with the absence of clothes, comes an inherent honesty and openness not otherwise present.
It’s thought that without clothes people come across as they really are. No pretence or clothing to conceal themselves warts and all.

To quote Julian Penn, “I call bullshit.”

Some naturists don’t even tell their partners about their naked activities, let alone close friends and relatives. Forget about work colleagues. The May 2022 edition of H&E even has an article about concealing naturist activities from others!

I recently started reading “Lying” by Sam Harris. In it he asserts than even little white lies are ill-advised and do more harm than good. He makes some powerful arguments, such as the following statement.

“When we presume to lie for the benefit of others, we have decided that we are the best judges of how much they should understand about their own lives … deciding how much [they] should know about [themselves] seems the quintessence of arrogance.”
Abridged excerpt from: “Lying” by Sam Harris.

Our pretence for half-truths, deception by omission and other alterations of brutal facts is often born out of a desire to “protect” others. From information we think might be upsetting to them or us. Let’s be brutally honest here. Very often our lying is to avoid embarrassment or uncomfortable discussions we haven’t got the guts to have.

The relevance of all this is a personal philosophical crisis I went through a couple of weeks ago.
It felt as if I was living some kind of double life. One in which I embrace being naked in public to swim and hike. Another where these activities don’t exist.
Trying to conceal an aspect of yourself or your life is never going to end well. Not for yourself and not for others you care about.

What I came to learn is there is an unopened gift waiting for us to be opened. That gift is brutal honesty.

It’s not an easy gift to pick up and handle, let alone unwrap. Our hesitation is the loud ticking sound this gift has.
Is it a bomb? Is it going to blow up in our faces? We all too often opt not to open this dangerous parcel.

From about age four, we’ve been highly skilled at manipulating the truth and we’ve even managed to fool ourselves into thinking this sign of intellect and intelligence has served us well.
The bad news is that it hasn’t. Sam Harris does a great job of explaining why. What I want to focus on is the benefits of learning to tell the truth. Even when it’s tough. Especially when it makes you vulnerable. What I’d like to share is how liberating the truth can be.

This discovery came about in part from realising that most people, most of the time, don’t care if you’re naked in a public space.
So long as you’re acting in a non-threatening, non-confrontational manner, minding your own business, they pretty much ignore you.
If you wave and say hello, they more often than not reciprocate. Some will even strike up a conversation.

What I realised is, as soon as I got past my own awkwardness and self-consciousness about being naked in public, it’s possible to be naked in many ordinarily places. Mostly the beach, but also walking tracks. Big regional reserves etc. The only limitation is my own comfort level. It’s got nothing to do with anyone else.

My next logical thought was, “if I don’t care about strangers seeing me naked, why do I care about concealing the fact I like to swim and hike naked from people I know?”
My family knows. That’s important. You’ll forever live in fear of being photographed or otherwise “exposed” if your immediate family are unaware of your naturism or tendency to partake in naked activities.

If you’re in a situation where these facts aren’t exactly embraced with enthusiasm, the temptation to omit information is really tempting.
The trouble is, the person you’re deceiving is yourself. You’re cheating yourself out of peace of mind. You’re taking on the burden of not being able to share something that is joyful. Life affirming and invigorating.

If you think that naturism is a path to a more wholesome, fulfilling healthy life. You’re deluding and shortchanging yourself so long as that’s kept under wraps.

Until you face up and deal with the part of you that thinks way deep down there’s something shameful or offensive about being naked, you’re not going to reap all the benefits you think are there.
If you’re sneaking around, covering up and essentially living a secret life of concealment and deception, you might as well remain clothed. No matter how physically naked you get, you’re wearing a heavy cloak of lies bearing down on you. Probably making your life a misery. “Why can’t I just go naked as I please?”

Often it’s not the law prohibiting you. It’s not other people around you prohibiting you. It’s you yourself and your discomfort with nakedness around others. Be brutally honest with yourself.

To go from skilful reality manipulator and story crafter to pure truth teller is no easy feat. It’s a habit one must form. It’s a skill one must acquire, and hone. You have to catch yourself out at lies. Lies to yourself and others.

I’m only just setting out on that journey. Thanks to Sam Harris, I’m no longer trying to be a little more truthful, as I’d originally set out to be. I’m working up to the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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