How do you know that you have to take a shower every day?
There are so many actions we take every day without questioning that I often equate us to sheep. Me included.
“You have to drink six glasses of water a day”, said my sister. Years later it increased to eight. Who came up with the number? Who was the expert?
“You have to go to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned twice a year!” Do you? I actually have to go three times a year, and at the same time a friend of mine did not go to the dentist for eight years, and the hygienist said to her that she is doing a great job of flossing. My friend does not floss!
When I was a little girl, my mother would bath me in a big portable tub she would place in the middle of the yard for all the world to see. I thought nothing of that, and I cannot remember when this public display of my body stopped and the bathing ritual moved indoors. What I do remember like yesterday was that it had always occurred on Friday afternoon, ONCE A WEEK! So lo and behold, for six days I was left to experience that feeling of dirt and sticky skin, and maybe bad smell? Who knows, I cannot remember a thing, only liking the attention of the neighborhood while I am being scrubbed. And all you readers and therapists can say whatever you want right now – go ahead!
So now I shower every day. Even the days that I don’t get dirty at all – because I move from my chair at home, to the chair at the office, to my bed, to the chair at the restaurant, and most of the dirt is probably from LA smog … but shower I do. I do feel bad about wasting so much water, when I am basically pretty clean. I feel bad knowing that there are so many people who would love to take a shower once a week, and cannot. I feel bad about our brainwashing vis-à-vis all the things that “we must do”, and especially those that I participate in unquestioningly and habitually. You see, when I was five years old I did not know that I was dirty. No one knew that I was, because everyone else took showers once a week!
Women did not shave their underarms then, and no one thought that it is gross. Today I do, but then I did not. My mother never shaved her underarms, nor did her friends. Surprisingly, they all managed to have mates, and some even had lovers!
So the other day when a couple came to see me, and the wife was furious at her husband when he told her he put the kids to bed without giving them a bath – I knew that I was taking a risk by asking her what she believed was going to happen to her children without the dally bath. There was the risk of alienating her; the risk of feeling that I’m on her husband’s side; the risk of thinking that I am old and old fashioned and I don’t understand modern child rearing techniques, etc, etc, etc. Surprisingly though, after validating her anxiety about leaving the children with her husband, she felt relieved about the possibility of not bathing her children every day. It is after all, a pain in the a– to be enslaved to it.
So the next time, when you feel that there’s anything that you must do on a daily basis or a weekly basis, ask yourself why, and how do you know that it is so. And for goodness sake, skip a bath here and there, you will only be helping the environment.