A case for showering differently
Wash, rinse, and repeat.
It’s not a coincidence that our showering activities have become an idiom for cyclical, mundane actions. Get off work, go home, watch TV, go to bed, rinse and repeat. Wake up, eat breakfast, commute to the job, rinse and repeat. The proverbial “shit, shower, and shave.”
But routines are deeply personal, and those in the shower are even more so. They feel universal, like everyone must do them, yet in reality are inherently unique. We are the only ones who know what we do in the shower. We don’t know how others shower. Others don’t know the way we scrub our backs, how roughly we massage our scalp, in what sequence we clean behind our ears, if we brush our teeth while we’re under the water or beside it. It is one of the most private, individual activities of our day, yet we see our washing habits as natural and almost inevitable, like the rest of our routines.
Routines are safe. They can be valuable. They are one less thing to think about in times of tension and transition. Rinse. Repeat.
They can also can also be dangerous habits in which our agency is lost to the passive voice. They can become unconscious handcuffs that limit movement and thought in favor of w hat we’ve always done. There is a weighty tedium to the ‘rinse and repeat’ of unexamined routine that is wholeheartedly unnecessary.
So if you have the time and the energy, examine.
Look at the soap you hold in your palm; see it like it was the first time, like you could see the man next to you in the subway, or the entry hall of your office, or the grain of the wood in your desk, or the next aisle over in the supermarket. Notice the difference in how it feels. Lather your hair in a new pattern, from the back to the front, like how you could take the long way instead of the fast way, like you could stop and say hello to this neighbor, like you could turn left today instead of turning right, like you ask yourself what the city smelled like when the people paved the sidewalk you tread upon.
Open yourself to saying, “I’d never thought of that before. I’ve never seen it that way.” Change the way you approach the things you take for granted to see how they, in turn, can change you.
Published: April 14th, 2016