One of my earliest memories is refusing to leave the tub until all the water drained out, so that I could stay in as long as possible. My mother would say “Come on, I have other things to do and have to get you dried off and dressed.” But I steadfastly refused. I was 35.
No really I was like 5. But to this day, decades later, I love taking a bath. Screw the shower; it’s utilitarian. Sometimes it’s more, but usually it gets the dirt off and that’s that. The tub however is luxuriant and indulgent. Slowly submerging in water hot enough to redden my skin — and anything less is a frigidarium — washes away all the filth that isn’t necessarily visible. My cats and dog won’t approach the water, though I’d probably share it with them. Not much can bug me. If you’re soaking wet, it all has to wait. As Spongebob Squarepants would say about Krabby Patties, “It’s good for your SOUL!“
The bath is also my way of eschewing the modern day preference for multi-tasking. I strive to be a proud unitasker, concentrating on one single task and doing it to the best of my ability. Though I must admit to reading while soaking. What should you read in the tub? Try “How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto,” by Tom Hodgkinson. It’s not exactly what it sounds like. This book will show you that what looks like loafing can actually accomplish a lot. You can read it for yourself, or take it out of the library like I did. Better yet, get the book and read it over coffee in a real local coffee house, if you can find one. Avoid the refueling stations that are Starbucks and the like, and savor instead.
If you can’t get the book before your next bath, you can read my short prose-poem, which this post is a thinly veiled attempt to get you to do:
Bath:Shower :: Journey:Commute
So egalitarian and liberal does it seek out every fold, pit, nook and space; the water, so unlike the stinginess of a blanket (no matter how downy), comforts every pore. A blanket mocks your unease; it promises comfort but delivers little. Ere long you stir, and the cold seeps back in; it rushes to your most susceptible skin.
Yet the water, eager to comfort, thaws from outward in; unfailing, its effulgence flows and tumbles down encompassing. All earthly and imagined evils flee; you are protected. As it softens skin, it works and works, ever inward, so that no tissue or sinew or muscle can resist; down to bone in fact and to the spark of God within.
I write not of the physical benefits, though indeed they are innumerable, but of the moral and spiritual value. Archimedes! He knew a king’s crown is born in the water. Brethren bathers united in our hermitage, separate but one.