Each night, when my body is fast asleep, there’s a whole cinematic thing going on in my head. Sometimes I swear I’m busier at night than I am in the entire day. One of last night’s dreams really spoke to me, though it clearly didn’t feel comfortable at the time.
I was somewhere between Cumbria and Yorkshire, standing in a small village, and I was completely naked. I had no idea how I got there, and I didn’t know where my husband was. I had no phone to make contact with him to bring me clothing.
People were looking at me, and men were grabbing my breasts. Even the women were looking me up and down. I asked around for some clothing to wrap around me. Eventually I had a small tablecloth that I could stretch around my waist. It was a little wider than Eve’s fig leaf!
Nakedness is interesting, on many levels. It’s a taboo in our culture, unless of course you’re some scantily clad thing on a trashy tabloid newspaper whose thong choice leaves little to the imagination.
Clothing separates us from others. It may be used for fashion, though in my case it’s nearly always used for warmth!
As a cook, I adore naked food: produce fresh from the garden. Meals made from scratch. I can’t abide soup from a tin, for example. In my food choices, I seek out ‘real’. I want to know every last ingredient in the meals I eat.
My dream clarified something for me: that as much as I walk a path with the goal of being authentic (naked), there will always be those who will try to cover up people like me. Why? Because our nakedness causes others to question their coverings. In fact, cover up actually means ‘shut up’. We do this with clothing, but we also do it to babies every time we shove a dummy in their mouths. We don’t want to hear them.
I mean, imagine this: you’re in town, doing your shopping, and you see Jane Smith. She comes wandering out of a shop wearing…well, nothing. Starkers, she is.
And you? You’re in your knee-high black boots, and that gorgeous cashmere cardigan. Jane is delighted to see you and starts to chat. But where do you look? At the sky? At the brass band busking over by the delicatessen? You can’t look at her waist, or between her legs. Jeez, of course not! And what about her breasts? That would be a bit, well, creepy, right? Breasts are only for selling cars, real estate, coffee, shopping malls, and diamonds.
The truth is, you’re both coming from a different place. Can you, in all honesty, look at Jane—look at all of Jane—and be comfortable? It’s highly unlikely (apart from the small detail that someone would have had her arrested before you came along). Ours is a culture of shame, blame, fear, dishonesty.
I watch Jeremy Corbyn take centre stage in British politics right now and want to yell: “LOVE YOUR NAKEDNESS, JEREMY!”
He’s being authentic. He’s speaking his truth. Interesting how quickly MPs scuttled away when his voice was starting to really be heard. They didn’t want to be associated with that naked man! And how fascinating is it to see the ‘true colours’ of politicians like David Cameron become almost neon-like as they flash their distaste.
The truth is we’re unlikely to become a culture that gives people the right to be naked. But what about the other ways in which we can be naked? We don’t need culture’s approval to be authentic. We might be shamed, or legally bullied, into wearing clothes, but no one can force us to cover our true nature.
When we come to love who we are, and to value our place on this earth, then we won’t even bother with a fig leaf; not for ourselves, and not to protect others.
Our values, our beliefs, our passions ~ they don’t need hiding. They do, however, need honouring. I read a lovely quote the other day. It was something like ‘self-esteem is the reputation you have of yourself’. Wow! What does this say about the majority of people? Few people have a healthy self-esteem (please don’t confuse someone’s arrogance or bullish behaviour as high self-esteem; it’s quite the opposite).
If you had a great reputation (of yourself), you would have no need to ‘dress’.
We wear ‘psychological’ garments every time we hide our truth, regardless of whether it’s over a small issue or something that’s hugely important to us. Living a life of compromise means that we start to have ‘emotional’ leakages somewhere. Generally, such leakages end up causing disease as the physical body tries to process what the mind and emotions have been denied. A really good example of this is when someone we love dies. Our culture is not set up for grief. Yes, you can have a few days off work, but by heck when you get back for God’s sake don’t cry in front of anyone. The grief of losing someone can take years to process. Imagine what it does to us when we’re forced to contain that pain so we don’t upset others (with our nakedness). Our body pays the price.
In what ways are you covering up? Do you keep a fig leaf (or banana leaf) nearby so that others don’t have to see who you really are?