Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Soap and Water

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 3:40 pm

What is it about being in a warm shower that brings me back from the dead? I wake up at the same time every morning without an alarm clock. If I get to bed at the right time, I’m awake the next morning at six am whether I need to work or not. This is the ability of a morning person, an internal clock that snaps my eyes open at the correct time every day.

Soap and water
Take the day from my hands.
            Suzanne Vega, Soap and Water

Open eyes doesn’t necessarily mean that I am ready for the day, however. It means I am conscious enough to put on some clothes or drag myself to the shower. Therein lies the most important decision of my day. If I choose the clothes, I will never enter the land of the living. I will merely be the lifeless corpse of a woman, doomed to wander the day in a haze. If I choose the shower, I am awoken from the zombie spell of the evening before.

So, what is it about the act of showering that brings me out of the haze? Maybe it’s the ritual. Hang up the robe, place the bath mat on the floor, turn on the water, adjust the temperature, step into the shower, and allow the water to cover my hair, my face, my body. I do it all in the same order every morning. Every other day, I put my hair in a shower cap worthy of the funniest sitcom sketch. My hair will dry up and fall out of my head if I wash more often than that. Otherwise, the ritual is the same every morning. If I get mixed up and my ritual is disturbed, I will forget something. It’s guaranteed. Even on the days when I forget the ritual, I still feel refreshed and ready for the day. No, it’s not the ritual that brings me back to life.

Soap and water
Hang my heart on the line.
Scour it down in a wind of sand
Bleach it clean to a vinegar shine
.             Suzanne Vega, Soap and Water

Maybe it’s the spiritual act of cleansing. The soap and water cleanse my body, making it ready for the day. Maybe the act is more than physical. Maybe the soap and water cleanse my soul for the day. On the days when I don’t cleanse my soul, I am still a member of the undead? That’s total crap. If the act of stepping into the shower cleansed my soul, wouldn’t I feel the burden of my past sins and transgressions leave me? Would these errors in judgment still haunt me if my soul was cleansed every day? No, that can’t be it. My daily baptism is not a spiritual one.

The Vulcan inside me is smacking me upside the head right now. The reason that I feel so much more invigorated after a shower can be entirely explained by the difference in body temperature. When I disrobe, I feel cold. When I step into the shower, the warm water increases my body temperature. When I turn off the shower and towel off, the evaporation of the water makes me cold again. Finally, I bundle back up in my terry cloth robe and I feel warm again. That many temperature changes in such a short amount of time is enough to wake anyone from the dead.

Soap and water
wash the year from my life.
Straighten all that is trampled and torn.
            Suzanne Vega, Soap and Water

The Klingon inside me so much wants to believe in cleansing rituals and spirituality. The image of a baptism still hold promise for me, despite my lack of faith in a higher power. The idea that ritual can bring me from the land of dead is a desire for all of us. If only funerals worked in that manner. If only we could perform the ritual perfectly, our loved ones would return to us. If only prayer worked in that manner. If only we could sit quietly, God would appear to speak to us. No matter how much my inner Klingon has prayed, Kahless has never appeared to her.


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