Baring All

The School Library

Action is the antidote to despair. - Joan Baez

Finals started at school today, a mostly hellish period of school that perpetuates tension and anxiety, stress, ineffective studying and a whole lot of sleeplessness. My university cruelly leaves the library open for twenty four hours the night before finals start, yet not the four nights of reading period preceding. Go figure. The dreams of dozens are students are crushed, in fact they cease to exist among the practice of the study-focused allnighter (vastly outshone by the party focused allnighter of course).

But fortunate for the suffering student souls, there is respite. It comes in the form of dozens of different students, running naked and screaming through the library, and other buildings where students study. Its acceptance of the craziness we let into our lives. It is the necessary antithesis to hours spent in front of books and screens. It is a deep and refreshing breath. And most of all, it is uniting.

I participated this year. The occasion hadn't surfaced in the past, not that I would have been opposed. Nudity is natural, and needs no reason to exist only within sexual and judgmental situations. Yet, in our contemporary society, one constructed with images, facades and strict separations of interior and exteriors acceptances and behaviors, it is strictly shunned.

In the room where we meet before the streak, there were best friends, acquaintances, people I recognized, and complete strangers. It was clear that my fellow participants came from every social group, every background. But the act of removing our clothes eliminated these differences. Human bodies provided a sense of unity, a vehicle for expression and relief against a system of tireless study and suppression.

We ran, we screamed, we didn't care what people thought. Being concerned about body image is silly, because if you don't like something, it is on you to take the actions to change it.

I didn't know what to expect as a reaction, but what I saw was unimaginable. People lined the pathway and library like spectators at a bike race, some cheering along, many filming and taking pictures. In the moment, it didn't matter, instead, it was gratifying to let loose the tension from days on end with books and academia.

Afterwards, I felt motivated, united and revitalized. Maybe the strangers I streaked with aren't better friends, but we shared a meaningful experience and that is important. I could return to my studies refreshed.

But the reaction of the non-streakers lingered in my mind. On one hand, I'm angry because it is a violation of privacy. Delete that photo of my friends and I, don't share that video of girl with the hot body. Its rude and intrusive.

But deeper down, I feel disappointed. It was yet another reminder that we can't live in the moment anymore. Everything must be documented, shared and liked to the point that it has become some mundane that it is forgotten in the wake of something new. We'd all benefit from being immersed in our lives a bit more, enjoying the now rather than worrying about looking back over it later.

There are moments that aren't made to be recreated, sensations that can't be shared. Regardless, I was impressed by my fellow streakers, at least fifty college students who were able to forget about social constructions and the ever present social media and connect on such a primal level. This pride and revitalization should serve as good fuel for the rest of my studying and writing.