The threshold of shame looms high and ominous in the imaginations of many. It towers far overhead, casting a long, dark shadow of ignominy. Parents, wishing children to “behave,” whisper that The Threshold of Shame rains down a thunderous cascade of scalding oil and shoots poisonous darts from its arch-like frame if you dare to even approach it – to approach it by thinking about running around without clothes, or daring to want to see the clothesless people just beyond the threshold. Don’t go there. Don’t cross that line, say the investors and shareholders of Shame, Inc.
But those who do cross that threshold, or those lucky ones who from the beginning never even perceived it, report that when they look behind them, they see nothing: no monolithic archway, no boiling waterfall. Was it a mirage, this threshold? they ask themselves.
Or they think, vaguely recalling that they once wore clothes: Maybe that branch back there tore at my blouse, and the mud sucked off my shoes, and then I just wanted to feel the wind between my thighs, but it was never an all-or-nothing, in-or-out, massive threshold of doom situation.
Then, the naked call back to the fearful: Why aren’t you following us? It’s wonderful over here! I’ve never felt better, freer, happier!
Hearing no answer, they ask compassionately, Do you still think that shame is uncovering your body?
And seeing only tenuous glimpses of nervous nods far off behind them in the brush, they provide the answer themselves: False. Incredibly, enormously false.
Let us tell you what shame really is. Shame is the fact that so many people cannot even conceive of beginning to think about approaching the threshold, to think about the idea that they should be naked, outdoors or indoors, with other people!
|Geodesnudos, Arica, Chile. Rodrigo Núñez.|
Shame has bound you, they call out to the cowering ignorant, in its wretched garments: scratchy, tight, dirty, stinky, wet. Thoughtless, you wear them, because the conditioned convenience of conformity has grown dearer to you than the more basic convenience of your very freedom of movement. Some of you say casually, though you seem to mean it, “I’d rather die than be seen naked.” Death over life, you choose. Do you really mean what you say?
If not, then what are you waiting for? Rip off your garments of shame, and come into the light!
Running ahead, leading the way joyfully, the naked ones dance, and their dance is a dance of movement, but also a dance of thought.
4 thoughts on “The Threshold of Shame”
Beautiful and so true. If only we could make them see… I imagine a lot of folks who have 'found religion' feel much the same.This past weekend our 5 & 6 year-pld grandkids were out playing in the yard and wading pool. Our granddaighter asked if she could play in the nude and I had to tell her no, though her father and grandfather did when they were little.Why not? she asked. Well, the neighbors might not like it. Why not? Ah, some people are just like that. But why? They're just like that. Why else? Maybe someone walking by wouldn't like it either. Why not? Uh, they think it's not right. Why? Good question.How to tell this precious, innocent child that a lot of folks think it's sick and perverted, then explain perverted. Or that some creep may see her and come back later… Or that her mom might use it to keep the kids from us or file a custody suit against their father for allowing such a thing. How to tell her that what she instinctivly knows is right… is wrong.I told her honestly that I didn't know. That I really didn't know but, that's just the way it is.Welcome to the world, kid. True story.
My guess is she'll realize sooner or later that you didn't give her a good answer, even though she certainly pushed you for one as only toddlers can! You couldn't give her a good answer, because there isn't one. And the threshold is nothing if not enticing – hopefully some future encounter will end more positively.
Hey, Will, wonderful blog! I remember when I thought I was the only person in the world who had these thoughts. It's incredible to see how many people have \”come out\” and how passionate people can be about naturism. I agree that the nudity taboo is completely outdated and to be ashamed of seeing or being seen in public is downright Puritanical. I look forward to the day when a blog like this becomes obsolete.
Thanks! Er, maybe you meant \”post\” and not \”blog\” in that last sentence? 😉 I agree with you – hopefully body shame can become obsolete, and naturism a \”non-thing\” as you say in your excellent July 3rd post. But I hope to keep writing from / about bodies as we perceive them, clothed or not.