Today, I received the following letter from one of my friends. Turns out she’s recently become an amateur nudist.
Today, I did something that I’ve never done before. Something fun, that is – I’ve never changed the oil on my car before but that’s not exactly on my great-things-to-do-in 2011 list. Nope, today I did something a little unexpected (for prudish me). A little uncommon.
A little, well, naughty.
You see, today, I swam in the ocean. Without, um, anything on. Except sunscreen, of course, because I’m not completely freaking insane. Yep, you heard right. No swimmers, cozie, bathers, togs, bikini, tankini or even a strategically-placed sarong. Nuthin. Zip. Nada. As naked as naked can be. Which is pretty damn naked, really.
Better Than Bondi
A close friend of mine has become quite the ‘naturalist’ lately and has even graduated from nude swimming to nude fishing (yep, casting a line with a hook on the end of it ‘sans clothes’ is not for the faint-hearted). Although she had often invited me to join her (keep it clean fellas), I had always politely said ‘no’ – whilst really thinking ‘not on your freaking life, Missy’. But today I felt different.
Today, I felt like pushing the boundaries. I felt like letting go of my prim conventionality and getting over myself for five minutes. Today, I said with awe-inspiring confidence, ‘Oh, um, really? Shit.
Oh. All right.’
Yep, crashing through those boundaries like a ninety year-old man with late-stage emphysema.
Now, before you call the police (or my mother), it was a designated nudey beach on beautiful Sydney Harbour. There is quite a bushwalk (hike) through a National Park to get there and even then you have to scale down a five metre cliff to reach the sand. BTW, if reincarnation is real, I definitely wasn’t any kind of well-coordinated climbing primate in a previous life. And here’s a free tip: the descending-the-cliff thing is best done before removing one’s garments.
Just so you know.
Once we got there (unscathed), I could see that the ocean wind had carved smooth caves into the tall cliffs bordering the sand and my friend and I laid our towels in the shade and took in the view. The beach is almost completely as it would have been over two hundred (or million, for that matter) years ago and if it weren’t for the mansions in the distance elbowing each other for a harbourfront position, you could imagine that you were part of a pristine, untouched, natural setting.
It was a beautiful day and the water was incredibly clear. There were only four other people on the beach. They were all lying on their towels at different intervals along the sand, alone, naked – and hopefully wearing sunscreen too. They weren’t ogling anyone like sleazy men in grey raincoats on trains; they were just enjoying the sunshine.
Getting My Kit Off
So, the time came to undress. The big reveal. I normally loathe this part at the beach – and that’s when I’m wearing swimmers! I always imagine the stares of the skinny eighteen year-olds as they take in my cellulite and quietly promise themselves ‘OMG I am so, like, nevva going to let my butt look like that.’ I normally feel so self-conscious, so exposed and so un-women’s-magazine-like. Today, though, none of those feelings were present. It just felt right, logical even, that when you go for a swim, you take off all your clothes. Weird, I know.
But in that situation, in that environment, in that moment, wearing clothes would have made me the odd one out. Isn’t it amazing how something totally weird and terrifying can become completely normal and comfortable when a few of the variables change? Hmm, am I beginning to sound like someone you and I both know?
Now, I have to be honest and say that swimming in the ocean on a beautiful day would be pretty hard to beat even if you were wearing mechanic’s overalls. However, nothing has ever made my whole body feel as fabulous and alive as being naked in the water today. I kept smiling like a goofy six year-old. Maybe it’s because it was reminiscent of being in the womb (because I remember that so well, of course) or maybe it’s because we human beings are predominantly water. I dunno. I just know that I was expecting it to be an uncomfortable, confronting experience and it was completely the opposite.
In fact, when the time came to put my clothes back on I felt like having a toddler tantrum and refusing. Which would have made the drive home through Sydney traffic somewhat interesting, of course. What started out as an attempt to show my girlfriend that I hadn’t become a Nanna before my time, turned out to be something much more. And no, it wasn’t about the nudity (sorry boys) it was about the exhilaration of realising (and truly believing) that the forty year-old, soon-to-be-divorced (story for another day) mother of two, did not need to be determined by her past. Or her self-limiting thinking. Or the rules and expectations of others. Or her fear.
I Promise To…
As I drove home (yes, clothed) I made a vow to allow myself to experience new stuff. Stimulating stuff. Unconventional stuff. Exciting stuff. Out-of-my-comfort-zone stuff. Without over-thinking it, labeling it or having any expectations either way.
Of course, I have no plans to become a career nudist but I do have plans to become a career adventurer. Explorer. Doer-of-fun-things. Pusher-of-my-own-boundaries. To be totally honest, I’m a little tired of safe, sensible, predictable, fearful me. And that’s who I’ve been for much of my life.
I think it’s time to stop pre-judging how I expect to feel and to just give things a go. And to buy a much stronger brand of sunscreen, of course.
So, how about you? Is it time for you to nude up?
So to speak.
Craig Harper is one of Australia’s leading self help authors.
book on self help – Craig Harper