What makes a decision for change important to me in the sense that I consider it life changing?
Well, first it has to be a real thought-out choice. One gets up and goes to work. Yes, that is a “choice” but it doesn’t entail a lot of thought. The choice is compelled by fear of the adverse consequences if I didn’t. I might be fired. I know I wouldn’t get paid and that has unacceptable consequences as well. It was a very important decision I made every day without any thought. The choice to accept a known and bearable pain is very easy. OTOH the choice to accept an unknown pain is both difficult and profound.
You could have been thinking about something for a very long time without realizing it. A very deep decision could appear on the surface to be a snap judgment. I consider it akin to the feather that broke the camel’s back.
Next, it has to be important. We all make decisions constantly. Most are trivial. What to wear to work. What to eat at breakfast. Which movie to watch. Certainly, some of them might require a little bit of thought. But whether I wear a red shirt or a green shirt or see a modern flick or a classic isn’t important in the long run. Days later I will have pushed the info to the back of the queue or simply forgotten about it.
The decision not to do anything is still a decision. Not to take arms against a sea of troubles. It is really just choosing the path of least resistance. Inertia wins. Action thru inaction. There might be a lot of thought behind doing nothing. It may have a profound effect, compared to what might have been. Since it does not focus on changing anything, it doesn’t fit the definition I’m using, i.e., life changing. Nor does it fit the other definitions I am using, a step into the unknown and counter to the flow of your life.
As I think about decisions in my life, I see other forks in the road where I could have taken the other route but decided on pulling a Robert Frost instead. Pretend I’d made a real choice when it was really a faux choice.
Frost is describing two almost identical paths. It appears that one path is slightly greener than the other, otherwise, the two are the same. Not much of a difference. He didn’t pick a rugged goat track up a mountain vs. a well-maintained park trail. Frost is talking about our tendency to put more meaning into a past decision than was actually there.
Spin the clock back, if you would. I am a newcomer to Los Angeles. This job led to that job and eventually I landed in a custom photo lab. (The decision to buy the camera was still echoing in my life.) Renting a room followed by another room followed by the cheapest apartment I could find. My social life was a mixture of a gaming shop and Mensa, which at the time was having multiple events every week. The depression was still there. So was my attention deficit and so was my Asperger’s. And so was my desire to be nude as much as possible. In my own mind, I felt nobody else was like that.
Sure, there’d be the occasional strip poker or skinny dipping but to the other participants, it was a lark. To me, the skinny dipping at least filled a need to be open and accepted. The strip poker meant little. It fulfilled nothing except a certain feeling of sexual naughtiness (which can be fun) but really didn’t resonate in my core.
My lovers – and there were a few – and I were always naked from the get-go. To be naked with your lover is how it should always be, to view, to caress, to kiss, to love, and to accept it all. Lovemaking was pure bliss which I would prolong for hours because I never wanted it to end. It filled so many other niches besides just being naked. While we were together I was deeply and madly in love with each lover and the glow would keep me buoyant for days, even though I knew it was a just one night stand. I always tried to remain at least friends with them. (But sex is a subject for a future post. Time to move on.)
The desire to be nude outside of generally acceptable contexts remained strong. It wasn’t a sexual thing. I didn’t flash people and nudity wasn’t an erotic trigger for masturbation. I wasn’t trying to get this person or that to “see” me naked. It dates backs to my earliest childhood memories when I didn’t even know that sex existed. (But that history is all in a previous post. Time to move on.)
I was really tired of hiding in a closet. My guilt trip wasn’t over merely being nude. My guilt trip was over wanting to be nude so badly. There was something wrong with me. I should not be feeling joy over simply being “skyclad” (using the Pagan term). People thought I was weird and I felt perverted. Time to take action and rid myself of this demon!
This led to my next decision. As a member of Mensa, I became aware of a group known as “Free for All“. It was a skills exchange. You would submit a list of thing you were willing to do for free. You were expected to follow thru on the promise should someone else need those services. In return, if you needed something that someone else had offered they would perform that service for you. I had photography and nude modeling to offer. I found someone who offered psychological counseling and took them up on it. That was a fateful decision.
This is from another blog on my site.
What inspired me to throw the closet aside was an odd situation. When I first arrived I was still tweaked in the head, desperately wanting a naturist life while feeling I was a “pervert” for wanting to do so. I saw a psychologist about this. She was convinced that I would overcome my “problem” if only I could work out all that pent up anger at my parents. She had me reciting every evil thing that happened to me as a child and beating the crap out of her sofa with something she called a “bataka”. This was a club made out of very soft foam covered by fabric. One couldn’t have injured a mouse with it but it made very satisfying thuds.
I felt remarkably silly doing this. She said to do it, so I did and she was happy. I mean it was a fun thing to do but if taking out my frustrations that way really helped, I doubt I’d need to see her. I’d line up milk cartons at 100 yards and pop them off with my revolver. (I was very good.) Or go into a gym and pound the shit out of a body bag. (Another thing I was very good at.)
What I did get from her was the importance of protecting and nurturing my inner child. Once I accomplished that, she felt my desire to “act out” would recede. Well, there was a problem with that. It was my inner child who wanted to run naked and free in the fields and streets and everywhere else. I wasn’t rebelling against my parents, I was suppressing the real me. Once I accepted and loved that inner child I still enjoyed nudity, social or solo. I just stopped feeling guilty about it. I came out of hiding and started seeking kindred souls. I was as matter of fact about it as my love of photography or my love of nature.
Boy, was she surprised!
The bottle was uncorked and the genie got out. I did strip-o-grams thru my 20s. (I have a wild side and am a bit of an entertainer.) Haunted nude beaches and a local naturist club called Elysium, out in Topanga Canyon. (No longer in business.) Modeled for anyone who’d draw or photograph me. If there was a party and there was a pool my first question was if it was clothing optional. (They almost always said yes.) Pushed the limits around Halloween. The one thing I always tried to do was make sure no one present would be offended. (At least not seriously so.)
“F*ck the world” was a surprisingly good strategy. This is how I am. If it is not OK with you, then Godspeed and we will walk different paths. I will not judge you and really don’t give a crap if you judge me. Self-respect starts with respecting who you are and not what someone else thinks you should be.
Pagans have their own version of the Golden Rule. “Do as thou wilt, but hurt ye no one.” Very libertarian in spirit. Almost as good as the Hebrew version, “Do not do unto others that which is hateful to yourself.” The Christian version I have always heard, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” has some subtle, yet deep problems, but in this context works just as well. Those statements pretty much sum up my moral system and none of them says you have to wear clothing while you are doing it.
Deciding to seek therapy was a true decision. I grew up in a land where shrinkologists were held in deep disrespect. The proper solution to a personal problem was either willpower or getting close to God. Real men didn’t seek professional help. The only counselors one might go to without losing self-respect were either close family, a school counselor or clergy. (And I was way past school age, not religious, and my family was unwelcome in my life.) Perhaps the fundamental decision I made was to change my sense of what constituted being a “real man”. Without that, I would never have sought help.
Having inserted a parenthetical decision into my story, we’ll spool forward to the next decision.
Fred? In the military? You have GOT to be kidding me. He won’t last a week!
To be continued…