I go to this fantastic beach. It is up a bit north of Santa Barbara...well, still considered Santa Barbara but not the city part, more the suburbs part. I could live here. Near this beach. For many reasons. It is very beautiful. And it is never crowded because it is a long walk from the road that I can park on and then I have to walk for probably another mile thru this lovely grassy area and then down a really long embankment that is very tiring to walk back up. But then I am here. On this beautiful beach.
And I can take off my clothes!
This has been a favorite thing for me lately. There is really nothing so wonderful as having nothing between the sun and the sand and the rhythm of the ocean, and me.
But this writing is not about this...the nakedness of me. What this is about is what happens at this beach with this nakedness of me and all the other lovely souls who make the trek up the path and down the steep slope to shed their layers, too. Most specifically what happens when we meet each other here.
I had a conversation with my daughter the other day, about conversations. And how usually, when we want to get together with someone to connect, we have coffee or let's get together for a glass of wine, or lunch or something. But it is rare to say, I want to talk to you today, let us sit and talk together. My daughter and I do this. As does a friend that I dance with who can bring that depth of connection that shows up on the dance floor to the honest interaction that we both desire. And I do this with a girlfriend. Just meet to talk. To catch up. To support and to share. To go deep. We sit, usually outside on these beautiful and warm summer days. And we make this connection that we seek.
So this conversation with my daughter, about the activities that we surround around our conversations, this is what I think....I think that these things we set up to hold space for the interactions that we are having with each other actually take away from the connections that we desire with each other. When we talk to each other and have the ability to drink that coffee, take a bite of that meal, hear the relationships that go on around us in these structured spaces that we are in, pause in the dialog to answer a question from a waiter, or hook into technology when our phones buzz or vibe or ring in funky and creative ringtones that mark our caller or our taste in music, we are constantly disconnecting for just that instant.
I am not saying that we all do this. Or that every coffee date is inauthentic. What I am saying is that, looking at the totality of this, when there is something going on that pulls us away from each other even as we sit in this space that we created for the specific reason to be together, it prevents us from really being together.
I think it is a defense mechanism. Because I think we are afraid. Of each other. Because we are afraid of ourselves. Of how we will feel when we are really present in this connection with each other. When our true selves show up and stay in it - in the conversation - without the ability to pull back when something else pulls us to disconnect for an instant. When we are vulnerable because there is nothing between what is going on between us, except us.
When we are stripped down.
Which brings me back to my beach. My lovely no clothes beach. When we are naked with others as the first thing that we are, we are messing with the correct order of things. In a really good way. Usually, we create our persona with the clothes that we wear, the hair that we style, the place that we go to eat and drink and meet - and these things feel like they are protecting us until we get to know each other better and trust each other more and can, maybe, let some of our layers go and dip our toe into the ocean of intimacy.
But here, on this beach, the trust comes first. The trust to take off our layers and be fully just ourselves in our wonderful bodies on this beautiful beach. Wet from the ocean swells and hot from the sun and full in our bodies, we are just us. We are doing this backwards, we are seeing each other fully. It is beautiful. You can feel it. The fullness of it. The wonder of it. There is joy here. And honesty. And a complete acceptance of each of us.
I am believing that the correct order of things is to come to each other stripped down and open and present.
And so when I leave the beach each time, I consciously hold, against my heart, the trust I feel when I am here. So I can take it home to my life away from this beach. I bring the image of my stripped down self back up the steep slope at the end of my beach day. I hold myself like this in my minds eye as I walk along the grassy path towards the place where I parked my car. I nurture the strength of who I am when I am here in this place where the order of things is backwards and we see each other fully before we even know each others names.
And then each day, when I am with those in my life away from this beach I keep the image of my naked and full self with me. And I can then meet you in trust and truth. Which is what I strive to do. Every day. Because I do not want to be separate. I want to dance naked on this metaphor towards the connections that I seek.
Would you like to come with me?
Mother, Wife, Friend, Sister, Daughter, Dancer, Dog and Cat lover.