Friday, May 22, 2015


When I go out in nature, I get the urge to take my clothes off. It's not about sex, although it can certainly be thrilling. Does this make me a pervert? Or am I simply a naturist? Being naked in nature seems perfectly... well... natural to me. And perfectly harmless to any potential onlookers, if it weren't for the fact that we make such a big artificial deal about nudity in society. Can't we just drop the taboo already? If my nudity is essentially harmless - healthy, even (for both me and onlookers, since hiding our bodies away encourages shame and disorder) - why must I feel like a criminal for wanting to indulge in this unreasonably marginalized activity?

I'd love to tell you that so-called "freehiking" is a legitimate, protected form of recreation. Indeed, it should be. If not in public parks and on public streets all across the country, then certainly it should be expected in those state or national parks whose emphasis is on natural landscapes rather than man-made landmarks (i.e., forests, rivers, lakes, etc. instead of forts and railroads and such). Alas, there are no such explicit allowances in this country, to my knowledge, and the only places you can get away with it for sure are within the boundaries of isolated private resorts (which are not, necessarily, going to be the first picks in terms of breathtaking natural landscapes).

Everywhere else, you're left to gamble on the chances that you won't get caught, or that if you do, the person who catches you is liberal enough to leave you be. As it is, I don't have any real opportunities for freehiking; I can only create that illusion with some carefully composed pictures, acquired by surreptitious means, in more (or less) remote areas, during (presumably - one can never be entirely certain that there's nobody around the next bend in the trail) quiet lulls in visitor activity. Understandably, and regretfully, my opportunities for taking such photos of natural beauty are woefully limited, and this saddens me.

To paraphrase the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, "Congress shall make no law...prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]." Stripping off my clothes outdoors amidst nature feels, to me, like a spiritual calling. I exist as a tiny kernel in this vast and amazing universe, and the cradle of Earth is my home. Although man is a product of nature, there exists a line between the natural world and the artificial world of man. I am not uncivilized, but the call of the wild serves as a reminder of where I come from. Clothes reflect upon the society of man, and to be truly one with nature, one must be naked like the animals.

I consider this to be a form of holy communion. But because I worship the spirit of nature instead of the Christian God, does this make me a freak, unworthy of honoring my own choice of God? Our country was founded on the principle of freedom, including religious freedom. But the fear of our bodies trumps all other concerns, including liberty and justice. And because we are a democracy, the mental infirmities of the majority are doomed to inform the mandates the rest of us are required to follow...

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