30 May 2012

naked and unashamed

for my son, Ian, some things in life are essential.

and other things are optional.

in his younger years, one of the daily rituals at the Marsh household was 'Tub Time.' Ian usually enjoyed his bath times...eventually (sometimes it was like pulling teeth to get him in there long enough to wash him up).

but no matter what his mood was before he got in the tub, one thing that remained consistent is what he did once he got out of the tub after washing.

after Kir or i would wrap him up in the towel to dry him off somewhat, he would get this kind of crazed look on his face, and instantly he would take off, out of the bathroom, down the hallway, into the living room. and once he was in the living room, he would just start running around in circles doing what we called 'the victory dance'. he would shake his arms up and down and squeal with delight.

mind you, Ian did all of this naked as a jaybird.

because for Ian, some things in life are optional.

like clothing.

and self-consciousness.

it didn't matter whether it was only the four of us at home or if we had extended family, friends, or other guests over. he did his 'dance of freedom' no matter who was around. and occasionally, the dance even extended for a few seconds out the front door and into the courtyard in front of our old apartment before we captured him and brought him back inside. (only in California, i suppose…)

Ian's uncontainable joy brought smiles and laughter from Kir and me more often than not. but i was also struck at those times by how beautiful he is, and how beautiful it was to see him just enjoying being himself by forgetting himself.

because he couldn't help himself.

because he was so caught up in the ecstatic joy of the moment, he wasn't aware and didn't care what others might think of him.

because he was seized by the power of a Great Affection.

that image of Ian bouncing and basking in the irrepressible freedom and joy of simply being his beautiful self in this beautiful world harkens me further back to another 'dance of freedom'...to David, the King of Israel, dancing in ecstasy around the recovered Ark of the Covenant, the precious symbol of the Presence of the One who is Freedom and Joy and Love.

leaping and laughing in his 'birthday suit' in front of the whole nation.

naked and unashamed.

and while many gave him hell for doing it - as a political stunt, or a way to show off while running the risk of bringing shame on himself and his whole family - Dave just did it.

because he couldn't help himself.

because he was so caught up in the ecstatic joy of the moment, he didn't give a flying fickled finger what anyone else thought of him.

because he was seized by the power of a Great Affection.

while Ian has transitioned over the years from baths to showers, and his 'dance' has been somewhat modified (no longer extending into the great outdoors), he still feels the freedom to be himself in many ways (including occasionally making the walk from his room to the shower and back in that same 'birthday suit', whether company is over or not...'Naked Jim' on the loose). and though he has by necessity learned some propriety in how he presents himself to others, there is still the heart and soul of that fabulously free, naked little dancing boy that shines through in the ways he embraces and celebrates life for the transcendent and transformative gift that it is.

because for Ian, some things in life are essential.

like enchanted imagination.

and exuberant freedom.

and uncontainable, ecstatic joy.

and as i've delighted in remembering his 'dances of freedom' and experiencing his extraordinarily engaging and expressive spirit in life, i've often wondered to myself, 'why don't i feel and exude that sense of joy and freedom in my own life?'

because for me, some things in life are seemingly essential.

like self-conscious shyness.

and self-obsessed insecurity.

and deep-seeded shame. 

it's a reflection of that twisted, sordid 'reality' within me...

that keeps my spirit entangled in unrealistic expectations thrust upon me by my self and others.
that has haunted me so often into an emotional paralysis of caring far too much about what others think of me for fear of rejection and abandonment.
that makes it seemingly impossible to allow the power of joy and freedom to untangle the web of expectations and reverse the emotional paralysis that numbs me to the deeper, more primal pulse of Freedom and Joy and Love within me and around me that calls me to lay down my burdens and Dance.

but then i think of Dave bopping around that blessed Ark in a way that leaves nothing to the imagination because it's all emerging from the power of the Great Imagination.

and i see Ian embodying that untangled, clarifying reality that empowers his spirit (and ours) to throw caution to the Wind, to strip off the entrapping 'clothing' of expectations and emotional paralysis, and to join in the glory and grace and groove of the Great Dance.

and i get a fresh vision, a renewed energy, a clearer perspective of what is truly realistic and possible.

and i remember that some things in life are optional.

like shyness. and insecurity. and shame.

and other things are essential.

like enchantment. and exuberance. and ecstasy.

like fascination. and freedom. and joy.

and maybe these essentials help to open our senses, our spirits, our whole being to the most essential experience of all.

to be accepted and embraced, not in spite of anything, but inclusive of everything. naked and unashamed.

to be seized by the power of the Greatest Affection.

('Dancin' Jim'...not-quite-naked,
but still completely unashamed :)


  1. Brian,you should be writing a book full of these observations,they make wonderful reading and i am sure would ring many bells with familys who share what you have in Ian but dont always see the full picture.

    1. thanks...actually starting to work on it and formulate it in my head... :)

  2. I second the notion about this topic being the first book you really focus on forming. There's a different energy behind your words here that sets them apart. What a source of encouragement and insight for all parents. I actually said this outloud to BPV last night while doing the dishes, before I had read these last couple posts about Ian. Just sayin' :)

    1. thanks, anne...seems to be the way the literary 'wind' is blowing for me...appreciate the encouragement :)