Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Existence Validating Shower Experience

This is the piece I submitted to Rookie mag, just for kicks or whatever. 

The Existence Validating Shower Experience
By Me

I haven’t always been a risk taker. A risk taker in the sense of immediate life choices, talking mostly with regard to experience in the fields of love or living situations or drugs or ultra-violence or whatever else curious teenage beings associate themselves with. I’ll absolutely ride the biggest roller coaster in the park and promptly scream and flail my arms, not because I am afraid, simply because it feels as though my arms will remove themselves from their shoulder sockets. And I enjoy that. ‘Risking’ no longer having my two upper limbs. Unnecessarily climbing buildings. Doing a ridiculous dance move in the middle of a city and chipping the corner of a front tooth. Pinching someone on the bootie. Sleeping over somebody’s house on a whim (though ‘sleeping’ is incorrect because the exhilaration is too powerful to still, due to the Talking Heads dance party just had). These are all things I consider to be risks, no matter how petty or insignificant they may seem, they are still things you decide on, a process during which your heart and /or other vital organs may skip a beat and / or jump around slightly.

It all came whirling down on me one evening when I was taking a shower in my home, after having returned from a week-long holiday.
I had built myself a solid routine in my home shower. And I mean solid. Extending to minute details including the direction I pointed the shower head, assuring my naked body I wouldn’t be pelted with cold water before it had the chance to heat up. I have my own exfoliating gloves and I bring clothes into the bathroom. Having a shower is an event. Every act is planned. My method of ‘wash face--shampoo hair--scrub body--rinse face/hair/body--condition hair--brush out hair--rinse’ has been scrupulously thought out. Recently, I was introduced to brushing my teeth in the shower and discovered the immense bliss it brought me (being able to dribble a minty foamy substance and not have it stain my clothes-glory) and had to learn to adapt my mechanical shower situation so it now runs: wash face--shampoo hair--scrub body--rinse face/hair/body--condition hair--brush teeth--dribble tooth paste--brush out hair—rinse.

The second morning of my holiday, I went to take a shower to remove the 8 hour car trip stench and suddenly, the universe shifted. Would the thwarting of my shower ritual truly be the end? All my soaps weren’t on the ride side where they SHOULD have been. The hair products were different. They were miniscule. Had I surpassed my growing into a behemoth human thing? The shower head didn’t even move, was I doomed to endure the tiny pellets of liquid ice?!

And then I realised, OH, THE FRAGILITY OF LIFE.
If I am so put out by such a seemingly trivial event I have implemented into my unbelievably regular and otherwise somewhat routineless life, what does this say about the nature of existence? How delicate we are! It’s actually quite incredible when you think about it. Every decision we make is like a snail crossing a fishing line bridge between two buildings. Either way we choose, the snail falls off to one side, hopefully if it’s a good risk for YOU, there’ll be a trampoline beneath for little snail to bounce safely to the ground (the snail would definitely not even survive this, I think, please refrain from testing).

When faced with an unknown shower in a strange bathroom, we are faced with two questions:
a) Do I continue my routine at home and try and reduce the amount of FREAK OUT when it’s all thrown out of whack? ie. Are small, ‘unimportant’, very structured every day events the types of things that prevent our brain hands from clutching utter insanity? Is it these things that provide a balance to allow us to do risky / perhaps utterly stupid things and feel quite liberated by it?

b) Do I stop my routine completely and attempt it all ad lib? Will this put me in more of a “LIVIN’ LIFE ON DA EDGE” frame of mind because I have destroyed the ritual like quality I had given to basically the most medial of everyday activities? Will I be able to make difficult decisions that will have implications on me for some time because I have exercised a willingness to change and to constantly be in a state of flux?

Risks are facts and pieces of evidence of our existence. They are real and they are important. Mysterious showers are important. Though baths are a great idea…

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