The Naked Experience

“Naked is where the energy is found to experience life.” Anonymous


Few words grab the eyeballs and grip the imagination like the word ‘naked.’

Naked is self-explanatory. Experience has taught us well the meaning.  Something or someone is going to be exposed, a mask removed, an essence laid bare, defenseless, revealed for all to see.

Take a leap of imagination…suppose it were you?  It’s hard enough to look at ourselves naked. We’d be horrified to have others gaping at our naked self. So we do what decorum demands, stay clothed. As Mark Twain commented, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”

But this advice was not meant for young teenage boys. We were blessed to have a clear spring creek running through the little town of my youth. On hot days in the spring after school we’d head for the it, peel off and plunge in, naked as tadpoles. No bathing suits allowed. Alas, we grew up, the creek mostly dried up and nudity rolled up into just a memory.

Most people probably don’t parade around their home in birthday suits or show themselves outside of the home. There are laws, you know, about public nudity. But there’s more to nudity than personal exposure.

La Rochefoucauld had his own maxim about nudity that’s more inclusive: “In every walk of life each man (and woman) puts on a personality and outward appearance so as to look what he (she) wants to be thought; in fact, you might say that society is entirely made up of assumed personalities.” Smoke that one over.

Look, it’s good to be proud of who and what we are, even if we don’t wander around naked. But life behind cloaks and disguises loses its vitality and energy. We’re too busy keeping up appearances. “Be and not seem to be,” advised Emerson.

The closest example I know is our dog Bogey. He’s one over par, a shot short like most of us.  He’s a handsome specimen, a hound. His clothes consist of only a collar with his name and cell number. As far as I can tell, he’s perfectly happy with being nude. And I’ve never seen him put on airs or pretend he’s anything other than a dog. He seems to be perfectly content with being just who and what he is, nothing more, nothing less.

I wonder how life would be if we only wore a collar with our name and cell number, so to speak, that is? Would we feel vulnerable being open and exposed to the world? It’d probably take some getting used to.

I read the news. So much confusion, so much duplicity and obfuscation. I recall Elvis’s words to his preacher, Rex Humbard: “Rex, is anybody real?”  Does life have to be a redacted script, a made-for-tv or media fabrication, a hide and go seek version of reality?

Maybe it’d be too boring if it were. We thrive on mystery, fragmented clues to reality, just enough exposure to juice our imagination so we can invent or manipulate our own mental scenarios.

Lately the world has gone mad trying to decide what a naked Putin would look like. Rip his brain out, dissect it, then see just who this Behind the Curtain Man really is. Maybe there’s a Toto to peel back the curtain and expose the Wizard to be what he is. Would we be surprised to learn he is like us, vulnerable and only a couple of missing breaths away from eternity?


Naked we came, naked we go. There are no pockets in a shroud. There is a power and an energy in the present moment of being who we are.

Today is as good as any to experience it. Take a deep breath, peel off and plunge in before life dries up and your tadpole turns to a toad.


Bud Hearn

August 29, 2022