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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

It’s like taking off your clothes…

October 3rd, 2007

When I first heard about blogs I thought they were yet another example of how self-obsessed we have all become – another example of our narcissistic culture. But I’ve changed my mind and have decided to take the plunge!

Two realizations acted as catalysts for this change of heart: I was reading Thoreau the other day and was struck by the self-revelatory, diary-like informal quality of his wonderful Walden Pond – and then I read somewhere that he was the equivalent of a blogger. Delving deeper into the work of the American Transcendentalists I discovered that journaling, and sharing that journaling, was at the heart of their spiritual practice.

I was almost convinced – particularly after one of my oldest friends the ‘recovering journalist’ Jonathan Miller showed me his stylish and provocative political blog I Told You So. He waxed lyrical about the virtues of blogging and urged me to start. But something held me back…

And then it came to me in a flash – I spend much of my time writing and I see it as a sort of weaving of words – I’m not writing about myself, about my own feelings and thoughts and experiences, or if I am, it is indirectly, wrapped up as comment on other subjects. I realised that to write and publish a blog is the psychological equivalent for me of undressing in public – at least if it’s going to be a personal blog, as opposed to one about a specific subject.

I realised then that to start such a blog gave me the same sense of discomfort and – dare I say it? – excitement that the act of taking my clothes off for the first time in a Naturist resort gave me: a combination of fear and shyness behind which was a voice shouting ‘Oh stop making a fuss, just get your kit off and enjoy being naked!’

I am just about to start work on a book called A Brief History of Nakedness that will look at the spiritual, psychological, philosophical and political dimensions of nudity. And it occurred to me that now is just the right time for me to step out of the closet, out of the clothing of words woven for a specific readership to experiment with just being myself without any agenda except the spontaneous urge to express myself and share ideas and information.

I still feel shy about this, but I hope it will bring me the same kind of epiphany I experienced the first time I took my clothes off at the naturist place. The moment before I did I was worried about a host of things: will people think my body is ugly? Will I feel too exposed, too vulnerable? Is this childish? All bundled together with the fears of the psychotherapist – is this exhibitionistic, narcissistic, regressive?

What happened? The fears vanished in a moment as I discovered that no-one cared – they just wanted to chat and swim and sunbathe, and so did I – and nothing feels better than to swim and walk on the grass and lie in the sun without clothes in the way.

In the end that was the realization that filled me with joy that day – it was clarity, freedom, simplicity, direct experience that I craved and that I found. And I hope this blog will help me do the same thing at a heart and soul and mind level – that it will free up my writing and help my creativity flow. Goodbye inhibitions and hang-ups, and welcome World!

4 Responses to “It’s like taking off your clothes…”

  1. As you most ancient editorial collaborator, I am delighted to see you have entered the blogosphere. I have always been a big fan of writing naked – metaphorically (and occasionally literally).

  2. Who would have thought it!

    I come back from a lovely holiday and what do I find, Philip is stepping into the 21st century, you never stop to amaze me!;-)

    Seriously, I think it’s a great idea and it’s lovely to just read your thoughts on different subjects, without the ‘professional’ aspect, but just you, plain and simple.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings,

    Lizzy

  3. Phillip, you did the right thing. I am a Thoreau enthusiast as well, but I never thought of him as a primitive blogger. Your assessment is spot-on. As for taking off your clothes, my first time was much the same way, but after about five minutes, all was well. Now it’s hard to go back to the “textile” way. The book you are working on sounds fascinating, and I’ll be first in line to buy it once it come out. All the best!
    Henry
    http://wwhd.wordpress.com/2007/04/10/clothing-optional/

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