There is something about covering your body in paint and biking through a crowd of 40,000 people that requires a bit of conviction. Or lunacy.
Saturday was the annual Fremont Solstice parade celebrating the beginning of Summer. The parade always kicks off with a couple hundred cyclists donning artistic statements and nothing else, and the crowd cheers those brave souls for ushering in summer and saluting Mother Nature with only their body and their art.
Did I mention that many of those 40,000 spectators have cameras? Yikes.
Why I decided to get naked
Since moving to Seattle in 2006 each year I have toyed with the idea of riding in the parade but never could overcome the fear of what people would think of my adventure. At the end of last year’s parade I told everyone I would ride, and our friend Katy (that’s her waving behind me in the picture) agreed to join me in the festivities.
As most of you know, *wanting* to do something and *saying* you are going to do something are entirely different things from actually *doing* it. And after bravely stating my goal of riding naked over the last year, I had serious misgivings as the day got closer. When we woke up to rain on parade day, I was even more unsure of my decision. My thin barrier between complete nudity and relative comfort was water-based after all.
At 10am – after a healthy dose of liquid courage – Betsy began painting me in preparation to show off my own version of a world globe. I was still shaky on the decision as Katy and I rode away from the house and down the hill to the parade.
It didn’t help that we were stopped at the drawbridge along with thousands of spectators making their way to the parade. Yes it was me, Katy and people wearing clothes just standing waiting for the bridge to raise and lower. In case you were wondering, it is challenging to make small talk with people while you are nude. At some point it is just weird.
Then the rain let up, we met up with the other naked bicyclists, and crashed the parade in grand tradition. Wearing nothing but a smile, we rode through the throngs of people lining the street enjoying the experience. It was an odd to hear “Hey, wasn’t that Warren” a couple times as I rode by, but I suppose these are just friends who now know me better.
The Naked Truth
After all that fear and apprehension, it was absolutely exhilarating to finally do it. I realized that if I can do this, I can probably handle the uncomfortable, embarrassing, or scary new experiences we will have on our trip.
Ultimately I decided to embark on this painted adventure to improve myself, not out of some desire to have people see me naked (that was simply an added benefit). As we have prepare to hit the road I have come to the realization that our around the world trip will require me to step well outside of my comfort zone: exploring new foods, not knowing the language, lack of a job to occupy my mind, not knowing where we are going next, etc.
If you have read this blog for some time, you know that we have embraced this trip not only as an opportunity to see the world but to explore ourselves. In preparation I have challenged myself to say “yes” to more things in my life:
- Skydived for the first time, facing my fear of heights head on
- Sold our home, the longest I have not owned a home in 13+ years
- Gave my notice to leave my job more than a year before our trip
- Ride naked in front of thousands of people (more images from the event (warning – some nudity))
As you design your own lifestyle you are sure to encounter situations that are well outside of where you are comfortable. You don’t have to get naked to feel that way in certain situations, and the challenge is to move forward to push the boundaries and grow as a person.
Where have you said “yes” in spite of feeling that “no” was easier – and how did it work out for you?