Playing a piano recital completely naked is a nightmare some kids have when their piano teacher schedules their first recital. But it is something that is only a nightmare, not something a piano teacher would ever do in reality. Not require the piano student to perform nude, I mean. They will definitely schedule the recital and cause the nightmare.
The thing is, however, that the picture above is metaphorical, not literal. A performer on piano, or guitar, or doing stand-up comedy routines, or even teaching from the front of the classroom makes you feel exactly like that. You can’t do it by keeping even one square inch of yourself hidden away, concealed under clothing, lies, or misdirection. The contents of your inner heart has to be there on display.
I remember being naked in front of a classroom of mostly hostile and mostly illiterate eighth graders on the first day of classes in the Fall of 1981. I wasn’t literally naked. But they knew I didn’t speak or understand Spanish the way 85% of them did. They knew I was nervous and feeling awkward. They knew I didn’t know most of the truly terrible things they did to the poor teacher-lady who had tried to teach them English in that same classroom the year before. There were firecrackers under the desk, thumb tacks on the teachers’ chair, classroom fights, insults in Spanish and English directly to her face, classroom posters destroyed… they drove her out of the classroom screaming to the airport in San Antonio and out of teaching and the State of Texas probably for good. I had no armor, no experience, and only a few teacher tricks in my bag of… well, you know, tricks they had all seen already many times. I might as well have been literally naked.
I remember the advice I got in my college speech class about giving yourself confidence by imagining your audience was naked. But 25 thirteen-to-seventeen-year-olds, some with mustaches, some of the boys had mustaches too? Picturing them naked worked against me. They were scarier that way.
I never seriously entertained ideas of becoming a nudist back in my teaching days. I had to consider the morals clause in my endless string of one-year contracts. I had to consider my own post-traumatic fear of being naked after what happened to me at ten. But my encounters with nudists and nudist literature did get me wondering… did make me actually curious.
Like most Americans, I never thought of nudism as something for me, rather, a thing that could be tolerated about unusual people who lived in their heads too much and were often too much of an exhibitionist. But I did create nudist characters for some of my fantasy-comedy novels which I seriously began self-publishing after retiring as a teacher. Specifically, the Cobble Sisters and their family, based on twin girl students who claimed to be nudists in my classroom, though they may have been telling fictional stories themselves.
And then real nudists and naturists began finding my books and liking them. I became a part of the online Twitter-nudist community.
And while talking to a family psychotherapist, he suggested to me that I should deal with some of my problems by choosing one thing I was basically afraid to do, but might provide a thrill or other positive feelings. We talked about bungee jumping and sky diving, but those were out because of my health problems. And then he suggested I might profit from actually trying nudism.
One terrifying thing. A nudist website wanted someone to write a blog post for them about first-time visits to a nudist park or other nude venue. I applied for the job. They published my application piece and then asked me to follow through. I visited Bluebonnet Nudist Park on a Friday in July of 2017.
It was, in fact, one of the scariest things I have ever done on purpose. But once I was actually naked among other naked people, I really felt the power of my accomplishment. I overcame a childhood fear. I accomplished one scary thing. And it felt great. I would eventually do it again after the pandemic.
So, I am one of those unusual and somewhat crazy people now. My wife and children are mortified. I am driving away blog readers who think I must be nuts. And I feel good about it.
2 responses to “One Scary Thing”
What a twist! If that’s what it takes to get you to feel natural in front of a crowd, so be it!
Ah, the sweet mysteries of life. God has a broad sense of humor.