Naked and Unafraid
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Just two days before a weeklong trip to Los Angeles, I learned that the housing I had arranged was no longer available. I then began a frenzied search to find a place to stay in one of the most popular tourist areas of California. I booked a room using an online rental service that I had used successfully many times before.
I arrived to a half-built house, actively under construction, with a ‘bedroom’ consisting of a bed surrounded by burlap hung from the ceiling. A handful of young men milled about. I was unable to determine whether they were owners, residents or construction crew.
Dust permeated the air and I began wheezing almost immediately.
To prevent myself from going into full-blown anaphylaxis, I decided to hit the streets.
I spent the rest of the day (hours and miles) walking, watching and worrying. I talked to myself, explored possibilities for dealing with my housing situation, and breathed deeply on a beautiful California day.
I stopped for a green juice before heading back to the house. No resolution had come, but I was holding it together. At least I was distracting myself from the panic lying just below my falsely calm exterior.
A quick check of my email brought me a punch of shocking news. It shattered the fragile peace I had created and I burst into tears. (Salty green juice… not great.)
I felt afraid, powerless and defeated. That shaky helplessness of fear quickly gave way to something much more intoxicating.
I got mad.
I was angry that I had not confirmed my housing earlier. I was angry that it was so hard to find a reasonable place to stay. I was angry that I had to interrupt my relaxing summer with this crappy situation. I was angry that I was angry.
I dried my tears and began the long walk back to the house. With every stomp and step, I savored my bad feelings, not wanting to let them go. I kept re-affirming my upsets – naming them, justifying them, offering blame liberally around.
It was not so much that I couldn’t shift my mood – it was more that I didn’t want to. I held righteous indignation firmly in my grasp. Fury was my fuel.
Pausing at a corner, waiting for the light to change, I was joined by a woman. A plain, ordinary, unexceptional woman.
And then she began to disrobe… piece by piece until she stood next to me, completely naked.
The restaurant goers nearby gasped, the motorists gawked, the pedestrians stopped and stared, mouths open.
She turned to me and smiled. Beamed, really.
It was the gaze and grin of a beautiful, loving person delighted to see me. Who happened to be buck-naked.
I could have been…
- saddened by her probable mental illness
- shocked by her behavior
- disgusted by the display
Instead, she made me smile.
The remainder of my walk home, I giggled and grinned like a crazy person. (I fit right in.)
I was given the grand gift of being shown, once again, how anger and indignation are merely a covering to deflect and protect. There is always a deeper truth underneath.
It was time for me to get naked. It was time to strip away the anger to reveal the fear. Then strip away the fear to reveal my soft, bare, vulnerable self.
My fleshy friend taught me several great lessons that day.
- Rage and resentment are like wearing too tight pants. They choke goodness and happiness.
- Stripping down to what lies beneath (if you dig down deep enough) will eventually lead to inherent joyfulness.
- There’s no tragedy that a little nudity can’t fix.
What are you wearing today that would best be stripped off? Would you like tassels with that?