Don’t Build Walls, Get Naked


The Fortress of Solitude

The world is a scary, unpredictable place, and for many people the logical response to this state of affairs is to build walls and build them high.

A fortress, that’s the answer! An impenetrable barrier between myself and the outside world! I’ll use the mightiest brick, the sturdiest foundation, the highest-quality mortar and my parapets will be lined with artillery so that no fool would dare try to shake up my world! Muahaha!

Unfortunately, with time, walls will crumble, mortar will turn to dust and gunpowder will mold and become worthless as a deterrent. The wind will creep in, as will the cold, and you’ll have no protection; no means of dealing with the wilds that you’ve avoided your entire life.

A person who builds their own walls also builds their own prison. While protected from certain elements of the outside world, they are also doomed to remain inside those walls – the only protection they’ve invested in – lest they go through life completely defenseless against even the most meager of threats.

A Heavy Weight to Carry

Well if not a fortress, armor perhaps!

My home will be on my back, and all of the slings and arrows of the world will bounce off my steely hide! My plate will be hammered by the finest smithies, my mail cast from the strongest metals and my shield constructed from unpierceable wood from the sturdiest trees that can be felled.

I will be a walking fortress, capable of moving throughout the world but still defended against those erratic winds of fate.

Though more mobile than a building, armor can weigh one down, especially over time. Dependency on physical goods to keep you comfortable and functioning through life is not a sustainable model. Metal can rust, wood can rot and your muscles and back will suffer as a result of the great weight you put upon yourself trying to avoid the downsides of life in the pursuit of happiness.

Get Naked

The best method, of course, is to face the prickly elements completely naked, ready and willing to be shaped by such powerful forces, and in doing so becoming more able to shape them in return as time goes by.

Walking with bare feet will hurt from time to time, but it leaves you most able to cover ground quickly, and over time your heels will harden.

Going through life without any padding or barrier between you and the world opens you up to suffering and heartache and physical pain, but it also allows you to experience the full range of emotion, sensation and elation.

The most powerful highs can only be experienced when you’ve suffered a goodly number of lows, and by leaving yourself exposed, you are able to ease into difficult situations – like slowly becoming acclimated to a hot bath – rather than experiencing one system shock after another any time you leave the gates of your fortress or remove your armor and are faced with the extreme realities of unaided real life.

Partially Nude

There are elements that can be taken from the fortress and armor models and applied to the naked way of life with little trouble and few drawbacks, but the more depended you are on yourself rather than ‘stuff,’ the more quickly you’ll develop, strengthen and be ready to take on the world au naturel.

If you can make decisions for yourself, you’ll never need to depend on someone else to make them for you again.

If you learn to cook, you’ll be able to feed yourself wherever you find yourself in the world.

If you are physically healthy, you’ll be able to cope with strenuous activity and hard work without complaint or thoughts of failure.

If you learn to communicate clearly, you’ll be able to convey your thoughts and needs regardless of the medium.

Work on improving yourself first, always. Everything else is an added bonus, and should supplement your life, not define it.


  1. Thats so true. I guess we build walls and armors because we are scared, especially scared of the unknown, what is gonna happen if this, or this changes. This post is a coincidence as this is exactly what i needed to read to make some current choices in my lifestyle. So thanks :)
    I will try to be “more naked” rather than living in my box.
    ps: really appreciated the french reference (au naturel)

    • It’s the unknown that scares us the most, I would say, since it’s always more terrifying than a known danger, and that’s what leads us to build and build and build those walls.

      I’d also like to note that I’m a lucky guy: I can encourage my readers to get naked and nobody bats an eyelash :)

      • haha. very true, you are definitely a lucky guy :) I read your ebooks too, i have to admit that you changed my whole vision of things. It sounds strange since you just “all virtual” living pretty far from London, but i guess it’s the magic of Internet and your writing ;P

  2. Dear Colin, I mostly read your posts and then crank out a few push ups and sit ups. Today my mobile office is in a rather conservative German neighbourhood café. They looked at me funny. Then I ordered chocolate cake.
    Thank you for the read, and the energy.

    • Haha, I’m glad that I can inspire a dedication to both physical fitness and cake. One must have balance in life, I say, and too much of one or the other would make life more than a little bland.

  3. Thought-provoking post, especially as I’ve recently been testing out minimalism in my life. I know that I still have too much mental stuff, and I hadn’t considered paring that down as well. A lot of that stuff does serve only as clutter and gets in the way of what I really want. Time to start getting rid of that as well!

  4. Being able to strip down and expose yourself to the world is a tough thing to do. But if you can, you’ll learn that much faster while absorbing feedback from the world around you.

    In John Taylor Gatto’s book “Weapons of Mass Instruction”, he lists self knowledge, observation, and feedback as 3 of his 8 important life learnings. Exposing yourself, or getting naked, is a great analogy for this. Nice work, Colin.

  5. Really creative analogy for self improvement/openness/authenticity Colin. It also is a creative way to describe the benefits of minimalism. It helps you realize that minimalism empowers you rather than limits.

  6. I really like this post. I’m currently narrowing down my possessions and finding the more I let go the more free I become. I’m allowing myself to continue to be shaped by these experiences, both good and bad, for my own self-development. Having feeling is what makes me feel most alive.

  7. Beautifully written. I really like this. Another way of looking at “getting naked” is in the sense of putting yourself out there and really showing your true self. I find that good things seem to happen when you stop trying to hide the things that make you unique and feature them instead.

  8. I cut my own hair today. I learned to cut my own hair because I got sick and tired of other people messing up my hair. My hair isn’t cut like I just got out of a professional salon but it definitely is a lot better than having to deal with other people messing things up. I got to disagree with you Colin on the “being nude” part. People who have been prone to heartache, problems, and issues, do end up building some really tough skin, but it’s tough skin that stands up on a very difficult foundation. We do become more focused, but it’s more because we are running away from things then the idea that we are free from anything. That’s just my 2 cents. I agree that it is better to be free. It’s just not the easiest thing to deal with no matter how bold someone becomes.

  9. Hi Colin,
    Each time I stop by your site,
    it just keeps getting better and better.
    Today I’m actually practising the concept of “taking my walls down”, especially when it comes down to relationships (all kinds).
    This post fits beautifully into some of the gaps.
    What’s more, I’ve been wondering what’s driving some of the wanderers I know (including you).
    The text above slashes through my doubts and questions like a Samurai sword. Hands down.

  10. Pingback: Slather yourself with learning | vivek mayasandra

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