Shower time: mindfulness practice

Before we get into the shower together, let me give you a little background so you don’t feel like you’re showering with a total stranger. I’ve spent the past three months on the road driving ALL OVER the West coast of America in my trusty 1999 Toyota Corolla named Cassi (love you baby xoxo). One of the most powerful things about being on the road for an extended period of time is the nomadic lifestyle. Nomad life, for me, included:

  • Eating whatever I could get my hands on (and could afford). My diet was (sadly) heavily skewed towards McDonalds and two minute noodles. Vegetables were rarer than Unicorns.
  • Doing whatever I felt like doing each day. This ranged from going on long hikes to sitting in coffee shops for hours doing nothing.
  • Sleeping wherever suited (and I could afford). Airbnbs, hostels, motels, hotels, basement floors, couches and the car were all viable options – I utilised all of these bar one.

While this unbounded freedom was absolutely incredible, recently I have found myself desiring some (semi)regular routine again. If I had to estimate it, I would say that nomad life was perfect for a period of about two and a half months before I began to feel this way. Thankfully last Thursday I made a significant step towards becoming settled – I moved into a room in a three-bedroom house in North Portland, Oregon. A MASSIVE thank you goes to my roommate/pseudo-landlord for backing me through the application process – as you can probably guess it was not easy to find accommodation in a new city/country without (a) a job; (b) a current home; or (c) any local references…

Anyway, that is the background. The point of this post is not to blab about how awesome it is that I’ve found a home (just for the record though, it’s pretty awesome!). Instead, I’d like to share something that happened to me when I was taking one of my first showers in my new home (I promise it isn’t anything dirty…).

I woke up in the morning (10:30am is still classified as morning right?) and did what I do every morning – jumped into the shower. It was while I was showering that I found myself in a hurry. Quick! Quick! Get the soap, lather up, wash yourself, get on with it! Quick! I was trying to shower quickly so that I could move onto the next thing that I had to do. The next thing in this instance was putting together the Ikea furniture I’d purchased a few days earlier with the help of my friend Cocoa and his pick-up truck named Misty (for the record, Cassi is way prettier… though I’m obviously absurdly biased – love you baby xoxo).

The act of showering felt like a chore. And like any chore, I wanted to get it over and done with so I could move onto the next thing ASAP. It was in this moment of showery-haste that I paused. I stood completely still in the shower as hot water streamed down my body and began to ask myself some questions:

Why was I in a rush? What was I trying to achieve by rushing? The next thing for me to do was set up Ikea furniture… Isn’t that a chore too?

It was in this moment that I thought back to a time when showering was not a chore. Vivid in my mind, as real to me as the soap in my hand, was a memory of a time during which showering was my oasis.

Oasis: “a fertile spot in a desert”.

The desert I refer to is a prior reality of mine. There was a time when my reality felt like a baron, dry, lifeless desert. During this time, I felt totally trapped. Desert sands sprawling as far as the eye could see to the left, and to the right. More than anything I wanted to get out of the desert. But I didn’t know how. Showering was an oasis – a spot of fertility in a baron wasteland. A brief escape. The shower was my time. Just me. No one could take it from me. It was just me and my thoughts. In total peace. Undisturbed. The oasis was so valuable to me that I would shower for no reason. Water bills suffered.

Okay, let’s get back into the present-day shower together again… While in this state of reflection, a small smile cracked onto my face and an instant calm came over me. I found myself unhurried. I found myself settled. It was my reflection upon a time when showering was one of the (if not the) most important parts of my everyday life that calmed me; that snapped me out of my rush!

I hear you asking me: “that’s all fine and dandy Mark, but what is your point? I don’t really give a fu*k that you used to enjoy showering and now you don’t, but you actually figured out that you still do. WTF is this crap? Hit me with some knowledge gawd damnit!”.

I hear you! The point is cliche, but perhaps too regularly neglected. The point is to appreciate the little things. Enjoy them. Little things are good for the soul. They might even help save it one day…

I’m very happy to say that this morning I had a shower. Rush it I did not. Enjoy it I most definitely did.

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