the simple minded suburbanite

If I Could Teach the World to…Shower?
January 25, 2010, 1:25 am
Filed under: suburb, voluntary simplicity | Tags: ,

“If everyone in the world would take a shower every day, I bet there would be no more war,” my mother in law says.  She has a theory that in countries that don’t take hot showers as part of their personal hygiene regime, opting for, say, rubbing themselves in spices or washing in a cold river, there is a high correlation to warfare and atrocities against humanity.  I mean, I’ve seen a documentary that claims that a country’s treatment of its animals directly correlates to violence against people.  But a hot shower?

Tonight I was reminded of my mother-in-law’s foreign policy statement as I stood in a steaming shower, temperature just below scalding, breathing in the steam and the smell of olive oil soap (not much smell, if you’ve ever smelled olive oil soap).  I focused on my breathing and clearing my mind, gently dismissing thoughts of all I have to do this week, and mentally giving thanks for my health and my curvy body as I massaged shampoo into my own scalp.

I didn’t always have such a leisurely approach to showering.  When I worked, I would lay in bed, hitting the snooze, thinking, I can sleep 2 more minutes if I don’t shave my legs today.  I can sleep five more minutes if I leave my head slightly damp.  Another 30seconds if I don’t condition.  And then I would leap from my bed, rush through my shower, though my body begged my to linger a little longer, and hurry through the rest of my morning routine, and run to the subway.  And my mind raced exponentially faster than my body on those harried mornings.

I now apply the stay-at-home-mommy approach to showering which basically consists of…not showering often.  PTA is a favorite philosophy of the approach (that’s pitties, titties, and ass for those who aren’t familiar with the approach, with a warm soapy wash cloth and then a warm, clean cloth.  It’s proven, scientifically.)  And my new favorite, the bang scrub.  Pull hair back in pony tail.  Wash and dry bangs only and…BANG!  You look showered!  And yes, once every other 48-62 hours, I do actually shower. 

Sometimes, I shower at 7am after I get the kids on the bus.  Sometimes at 2 in the afternoon before the bus.  At night is a favorite time, because I get straight into my pajamas…those 1950’s man-looking kind and fuzzy pink slippers I swore I would never wear. 

But it has occurd to me, as I quest to find more quiet, more peace in my life that I have missed an opportunity.  It occurs to me that once I actually get into the shower, I do enjoy my shower.  I do feel better.  Refreshed.  Relaxed.

It has also occurred to me that, though I don’t have to catch the subway anymore, my mind does still race while I am in the shower.  I grind my teeth.  I get so absorbed in my thoughts that I sometimes forget, Did I condition yet?

So, in staying with my New Year’s goal of emptying my cup, I am working on being more present.  More mindful.  Thinking less.  To be grateful in the everyday moments.  I am meditating more.  I am getting back to yoga starting tomorrow (really!  I am!) and I’m feeding myself spiritually in many different ways.  But sometimes, that can seem like more things to add to my “To Do” list.

So, tonight when I took my shower after an emotionally taxing weekend of supporting with my pre-teenish boy who is experiencing trouble with a boy at school and juggling house, games, errands, life, I got in the shower and breathed.  It was quiet in there all but for the sound of water against the porcelain tub.  Once the door was shut and the curtain drawn, I was in my own little world.  (ooo!  I just got a flashback of my first-born who, from about 9mos-18 mos, used to bang on the glass shower door and scream until I finished my shower.  He couldn’t stand being away from me.  Perhaps why I stopped taking daily showers to begin with.)  I love the heat and the steam on my body and there is nothing to look at but white tiles, so I close my eyes.  I treated my body with reverence, taking time to enjoy the sensations of the water and the soap.

I began to worry about a dear friend who let us know that she was divorcing her husband.  He should’ve don’t it long ago, what a dick!  Breathe.  I started thinking of all I should do tonight to get a jump-start on the week.  Breath, massage my head.  What time should my husband and I go out for dinner next week.  We haven’t had a date night in months.  Should we see a movie too?  Breathe.  My skin is soft and I still have pretty legs.

And before I knew, I had meditated.  I felt great.  I rejoined the boys who were watching the NFL playoffs and I could concentrate on a book while being surrounded by their chatter.

Perhaps this is what my mother-in-law was talking about.  Who knows what kind of war was avoided in my house tonight just by me enjoying the quiet, everyday experience of a long, hot shower.


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