A few weeks ago, I drafted a blog post for work. I wasn’t sure about the tone or the message, and since I wasn’t confident about posting it, I decided to put it aside for a bit while I took a few minutes to grab a shower: the one thing in my day that I always forget to plan for.
I used to be a shower-first-thing person. My whole life I’ve rolled out of bed and gone straight to the shower, before even getting coffee. It was as regular a ritual for me as reading before bed.
When I started using a tread desk, that habit changed. I walk every morning for four hours while I work. I sweat.
I don’t take a shower first thing now since I know I’ll spend the morning sweating. The problem is now my shower doesn’t have a designated slot in the day. Every day is different, and being a routine-driven person, the lack of regularity throws me completely. After 35 years of showering first thing in the morning, now, every single day, I realize at some point, “Oh crap, when am I going to fit my shower in?” This is my personal occupational hazard of working from home.
On this particular day, when I wasn’t sure about the internal blog post I was to publish, stepping away from it seemed the perfect time to squeeze in my unplanned-for shower.
In the shower, I enter fully into the inner world of thought. I’ve written before about how the shower is like a fairy forest: I step in, and time warps. In the steam, the white noise of droplets clattering on the tub, the warm water on my skin, I immerse so totally in day dreams, time and space become irrelevant. I forget whether I’ve already washed my hair. I have to check the dryness of the washcloth to determine if I’ve already washed my body. I don’t know if 5 or 30 minutes have passed.
The shower is my thinking place. I don’t intentionally go there to think — our water bill would be outrageous — it just happens. Sometimes I think about cats. Sometimes I think about the grocery list. Sometimes I think about space. Sometimes I have no recollection of what I’ve though about.
Sometimes I have breakthroughs.
I have another thinking place, and that is in a notebook, in the world of words. I write to discover what I’m thinking, to find holes and explore how to fill them. Strangely, though, I do not want my two thinking places — the shower and the notebook — to overlap. I don’t want a whiteboard in my shower. I don’t want a waterproof phone to capture aha moments.
The beauty of the shower as a thinking place is that the thoughts are uninterrupted. I am out of the way of them because I am usually unaware they are even happening. Writing would break that. It would stop the thoughts, it would disrupt their momentum. The physical act of writing would attach them and make them stick in a place where I am literally washing myself clean and trying to unstick things.
That day, on my unexpected trip to the shower, with no intention to change my thoughts or think about my blog post, and with only the intention of squeezing in a shower so I would not forget to clean myself before taking my daughter to swim practice in the evening, I took my shower and ended up thinking about the blog post. I thought about the tone, I thought about ways to make it more collaborative, and I thought about ways to improve.
When I emerged, I knew the edits I would make so I could feel good about publishing the piece. My showers aren’t always so productive, but I’m finding more and more that this disruptive showering in the middle of the day is working for me. Even if, as a structured, routine-oriented person, the chaos makes me crazy.
This is my entry for the Support Driven Week 3 writing challenge: Thinking space.