Been naked much lately? Me too!

St. John, USVI

St. John, USVI

I'm currently perched on a cliff above the waters of Kiddel Bay, on the southernmost edge of St. John, USVI.

I should probably mention that since I've been here I've been naked. Quite a bit. As a jaybird. As the day I was born. But I'll get to that in a minute.

We arrived to St. Thomas late Sunday afternoon. Spent the night in Charlotte Amalie, grabbed a bite, and had a generally fine evening. But we were just staging, actually, for Monday morning's ferry to St. John. 

It seems I'm the only person I know who hasn't been to St. John. Its popularity as a travel destination is what a vexillologist would call a red flag. I would call it the same. (A vexillologist is a professional flag maker. I am just a guy with a strong distaste for tourists.)

But we're here anyway, my family and I, based on reports of a kajillion killer shore dives and hiking trails for days. 

Straight off the ferry, we bought a bag of genips (aka skinips on Grenada, aka chinups on Carriacou, aka spanish limes on google), and we pointed the Jeep to the remotest corner of the island we could find. From Cruz Bay to Coral Bay to the end of the paved road to the end of the dirt road to here.

So far, I have to say, the place has lived up to its reputation. Stellar reefs and deep-water boulder fields. Shark, turtles, tarpon, 'cuda, rays, cero, squid, plus all the reefy regulars flashing every color in the crayon box.

But this isn't a freaking travelogue. You're here for the nudity.

So okay. Down here, as it turns out, I'm the early riser in my family. No idea why. Given my taste for late-night rum, this is a goddamn miracle, not to mention a troubling indictment against the up-and-at-em-ness of my squad. But I'm not complaining because it means dawn is entirely mine. And these dawns have been especially good.

I've mentioned that I recently became a fan of early morning yoga. I wouldn't say yoga is entirely "my thing," at least not in the same way that, say, the sound of the ocean or being a smart-ass are my thing. But I like yoga enough that on my first morning here, it's how I decided to greet the day. There's an overlook next to our place that seemed perfect. I carefully considered what I needed to bring with me. But slowly I realized I didn't need jack shit.

Happiness, I'm convinced, is the result of reduction. Of removing everything that's not absolutely necessary so you can focus on what is. In the case of yoga, all you really need is you. Or in my case, all I really need is me. And so that's what I've been going with. Just me and the sun and the sea.

It's a helluva thing when the waves are crashing against the rocks and the sun is pressing warm against my skin. Birds are flitting all around me and singing like I'm in the scene from that old Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah movie. Except with less racial stereotypes and more dangling and flopping.

I have to say it's a great way to kick off the day. Especially when it's followed by some time in an outdoor shower. Of course my teenage boys think the whole thing is weird af. Mostly because, you know, the whole thing is weird af. But I'm going to stick with it while I'm here.

They're sleeping at that hour anyway. And. I so rarely get a chance to drive life into the corner, as Henry David Thoreau put it, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

At least not without the cops showing up. 

10,000 hours? How about let's start with 10 and see how it goes.

I thought this might pass as a yoga image. It's actually a picture I took in a bar during happy hour. But you probably suspected that.

I thought this might pass as a yoga image. It's actually a picture I took in a bar during happy hour. But you probably suspected that.

I recently began practicing yoga. 

I shit you not.

I've had several non-yoga types (aka my people) rave to me lately about yoga. About how I should try it. About how it stretches stuff you didn't know needed stretching. Fortuitous timing, I'll admit, since I've had this vague sense for a while now that some of my stuff could use a stretch.

For starters, there's a tightness in my hamstrings that's getting harder to ignore. A lack of snow this year put the brakes on snowboarding, which I deftly replaced with a winter’s worth of ale and atrophy. The ramifications of this decision are now conspiring against me.

But there's also this: I've noticed a tightness in my heartstrings too... a spiritual contraction... other soul-related metaphors. It's nothing catastrophic. Hell, it's not even mildly dramatic. It's just an odd little mood that's been catching me on occasion. I'm sure there's a clinical term for it. Maybe "Late Winter in the Midwest." 

Anyway, this is how I came to find myself lying on a rubber mat in a darkened room at 6 a.m. On my left, a tiny woman doing elegant upside-down yoga things with smooth arms and strong legs and healthy heart. And on my right, a younger guy with a thick beard who was easily three times her size. He was sweaty and wobbly and, I don't know, approximate in his moves. Smack in between 'em was me. Sweaty and wobbly and approximate too, with just an extra yoga class or two under my belt.

I don't know either one of them. In fact, I don't know anyone in the entire room. The only words I've spoken in my five or six yoga classes so far are my name when I sign in, and "thank you" when I'm done. Instead of making small talk, I prefer focusing 100% of my energy toward my yoga mantra: "Don't tip over... don't tip over... don't tip over..."

The silence suits me. As does the solitude. I've always gravitated toward solo pursuits: silent sports, corner stools, writing (the introvert's ultimate escape). Clearly I'm not what they call "a team player." To me there's just always been something wonderful about private victories. And something forgiving about private failures, if I'm being honest. 

So it could be very weird for me to be in a room full of people, sticking my ass in the air. Especially since almost everyone one in the room is better at sticking their ass in the air than I am.

But it's not weird. It's not weird at all. In fact, I'm thankful that they're with me. And I'm thankful that I'm with them. 

Yes, I'm as rickety as can be. And I'm probably the only one who thinks it's fun to imagine he's longboarding during the Warrior 2 pose. But I feel like I belong there. Quietly attempting something gangly and new. Stretching things I didn't know needed to be stretched. Surrounded by others who, at some point in their lives, decided to do the same.