There exist aspects of life that are truly astounding, as anyone can attest to. However, what must be subsequently fathomed is that, along with the blatantly significant facets of our life, there are waves of infinity in each blink of the eye, in every rejuvenating release of the clouds and the accompanying scent of petrichor, in a moment’s passing, in the essence of any singular thought. The purpose of this column is to peer into experiences that many have daily—only in such a manner that is likely unfathomed—to promote a more substantial appreciation of such things.
- Beckett Wilkinson, Column Author
We are stood in the light of murk. From the gloaming arises, with the sun or with the moon, gears that turn only by running water. The fire of the brightest star and the steam seem as though they are forever at war with their respective extinguishers—one buzzing and the other dripping—and we, caught in the crossfire, have no option besides to be pensive. In and of itself, this is a shower though—a concept within a concept. We slide the curtain shut, and nostalgia or wit becomes the notes heard in our minds over the pillaging extinguishers. The pressure and the heat touch us all at once and gradually build us into a realistic structure—one newly sanitized—until this is eventually transcended by the sheer shrewdness of knowing everything. Impossibly conceived notions are, there, common knowledge.
Never living on UVA grounds have any of us bathed, for such a process signifies, in tandem with the evident absence of tubs, the willingness and necessity to soak in tension to allow it to remain within us. We are provided with stalls in the bathrooms of our dorms—some superior to others—and water flowing from above seems symbolic in a nearly divine manner as if we as mere students can alter the course of a storm with the turn of a knob. And as we ponder if we might one day impact our whole community, supposing that it is behind that single curtain with us in our psyche, we feel prepared to take on today and tomorrow. We return to our rooms, still in a clarifying daze, as we are reminded of where we are coming from by a minuscule trail of wetness that we leave with each step and the somewhat satisfying rhythm of shower shoes that squeak and squelch. Bathrobes and towels conceal our bodies, but we are still exposed, in the sense that our minds have been newly braced for all that is to come for them, yet we dry ourselves once more before dressing and making ourselves presentable to such an infinite melting pot of possibilities.
The idea that, through an act so trivialized, we are constructed into something more profound than our first sliver of morning sight does not resonate until contemplated fully. Left alone, our hair becomes greasy, our eyes become crusty, our skin becomes blemished, and our essence turns a putrid green. And yet, people may assert vehemently that the Old Dorms have showers that are nicer and more pressurized than those in the New Dorms—a debate that is particularly relevant to first-year students at UVA. However, perhaps nothing will compare to the cleansing spirit of our childhood homes—in any sense. There, our feet could touch the ground, and our privacy was fully maintained. Can those in the next stall hear us thinking? Think it over again and again these days, as we may, when we shower.
Although we all have these experiences, likely daily, the discrepancy between those who take morning showers and nighttime showers is similarly conspicuous. To stumble groggily out of bed and immediately involve oneself in such intense conceptual awakening, in preparation for an auspicious day, is perhaps the most conducive to being pensively lively. Rinsing the burden of a long day off of one’s shoulders and scalp, presenting a clean body to clean bedsheets with each phase of the moon—this is the true state of dreaming, where imperfection does not regularly linger. If either is more valid than the other, then the notion of the shower is deceitful, for it should resemble an innate truth that has never been dictated and never will be explicitly, especially for those who shower at sporadic and irregular times of day. We would not necessarily be doing ourselves a disservice to spoil such a grandiose mystery, but in attempting to do so, we may only discover what has been right before our eyes from a young age. No one can see behind the curtain.
In any case, what must logically follow—in terms of self-discovery in this vein—is the intentional connection between body and mind. If one is cognizant of their hygiene, then their body has informed their mind of its state of cleanliness, or lack thereof, and their mind has been considerate enough to allot cognition to this cause. Being alone with oneself facilitates our comprehension of almost anything, including why we would take care of ourselves, how we appreciate ourselves, and if we are deserving of the shower’s clarity. Of course, each of us is quite worthy.
The light of murk will rise or fall, the steam will only rise, as will our spirits, and our minds will think of ideas too perfect to be uttered aloud—only in the place where they are formed will they show their splendor. Due to the fascination of being human, of being a lifelong learner at heart, of remaining in a routine of self-care, of reflecting and growing, we are given an identity, and we may learn everything in the instance of the first streaming droplets hitting our outstretched hand from above.