Who Will See Me? Who Will be Seen?
When I accepted the invitation to be photographed for the Embody Project it felt right and natural. Being naked is something that comes easily to me. I am not an exhibitionist; I am simply most comfortable when I am in my skin. I live many hours of my day and night without clothes on, unless of course when I am cold, and I reach for some socks. When I am naked, there is nothing to hide.
Strangely enough, being seen was a part of the Embody Project that I didn’t anticipate. It sounds funny to say that I didn’t expect to be exposing my form when I said yes to being photographed and interviewed for a project being published online. I’m an intelligent and aware person. Why did it not sink in until now that being in full view is a key aspect of the project? I had an abstract notion that my likeness and words would be digitally published and preserved, and on display for others to see when I said yes. I considered being seen in my nakedness by business colleagues or heaven forbid, by my mom, my siblings, or anyone from my quiet hometown.
When I participated in the interview and photoshoot all trepidation melted away. As I took off my clothes, I felt more in tune with my body than with my clothes on. I felt the natural essence of me as I exposed my skin to the air and to the relatively unknown person in front of me. I easily and quickly slipped into being fully myself, fully a human being. It extended the world where I feel fully at home.
Erica showed curiosity about who I am without needing me to be anything more than who I was. She wanted all of me to flourish, to be embodied and shared. To be fully seen by someone who I have only known a short time is a new experience for me.
Fortunately I have lived with my wife, Keegan, who fully sees me and who has continued to uncover more of who I am for the last seventeen years. I am extremely grateful to be with the person I love, who totally embraces who I am.
Keegan calls herself a zelle-thropologist; she is an anthropologist of Zelle. Her on-going curiosity about me, even after all these years, makes be bubble up inside with joy. In Keegan wanting to know all facets of me, I am able to express me as me, with no filters. I give her that same gift.
In experiencing the other wanting to know more from a place of embracing, each of us feels free to share. And as more nuances and intricacies are revealed, the desire to discover more of the person grows. We engage like sculptors who don’t fully know what is hidden within a once jagged rock. We are consensually, gently exposing ourselves and each other, not in a raw or harsh way, but loving, curious and soft.
By discovering the beauty of form in motion, we are providing a release from a self-made fortress of seemingly impenetrable granite. We dance and reveal as we engage knowing and being known, participating in an unveiling of essence through the discovery of detail. We emerge, knowing each other fully embodied.
We cultivate what Keegan and I call Collaborative Awareness, where we see each other, and are seen, in an upward spiral of knowing and being known. It includes self awareness within each of us, but moves into co-created mindfulness and discovery between us. That’s what happens in relationship as we truly see the essence of ourselves and one another through the lens of curiosity rather than judgment.
Together, asking questions, deeply listening, we uncover more to love. The act of simultaneously seeing and being seen, fully embodied, is the deepest form of love I know.
Being a Fully Embodied Human
Living a fully embodied life is exhilarating, exciting, terrifying and tantalizing. I know the deep joys of being seen and known. Yet, why do I still want to shy away from sharing all of me with others, fully embodied, fully free? That word shy is interesting. I was often described as shy or quiet as a child. I even tiptoed around my home so as not to be noticed. I prided myself in my skills of stealth and my ability to blend in. “Oh, he’s such nice boy,” people would say. That was all the attention I was interested in, because I believed that by hiding me, I could keep the full human being covered, cloaked and safe. Unknowingly, I continued my tiptoeing ways into adulthood. That is, until Keegan asked me, “Why are you tiptoeing? I was incredulous. There was no reason to tiptoe, and I said as much. “Do I really do that?”
I soon discovered that subconsciously I still believed I had a reason to tiptoe and that Keegan was right. I fled to my tiptoes if I felt bad about myself and wanted to hide, I would walk on my tiptoes so as to not to be noticed. Thankfully, I have someone who is curious about me and how I show up in the world. I now have someone who was not only curious about me, but wanted the full primal, emotional, strong, dazzling, silly and unconventional me to be present with her, always. Because she sees me, and continues to see all of me, I almost never tiptoe anymore.
Having experienced the Embody Project, I have realized that I want to grow the places where others see me as the full human being that I am.
So I am conducting an experiment.
I want to expand and share the inner me, to the magnitude with which I shared the outer me during the photoshoot, with everyone I meet. The next five people I see I will think of how it feels to be deeply at home in my nakedness. I will remember how my skin feels when I am naked and fully embodied, and I will practice being one with the person who is right in front of me. After each encounter, I will reflect on what I felt, how it went, and what I’m feeling. After the first five, I will decide whether I want to try sharing the whole of who I am with another five people. I believe I will, but that’s the nature of an experiment. It’s something to try and reflect, and try again, to see what feels right and full to me.
I am here in this human body, on this planet, at this time, with these people, and in these situations to love and be loved. What better way to love and be loved than to be a fully embodied, seeing and seen human being? Would you like to be seen too?