The bath is in the house we’ve hired for the week at Cape Schanck. It faces out to the Bass Strait through a wide window.
Why not sink into it on a blustery rainy afternoon with the candle flickering? Or lay back with a book on a bright sunny morning like today’s. Or soak up the sunset with a glass of wine?
The dilemma is that the owners have left a note. A warning. The hot water is limited. Sounds like previous tenants have ended up having cold showers. The note recommends short showers, and that we make sure all the taps in the house are turned to the cold setting, even when off.
And I’m sharing with three other people.
It’s hardly in my interests to risk taking all the hot water. Living with pissed off … And possibly smelly people … Won’t be fun.
If I was holidaying alone, I’d probably take the plunge.
But sharing resources, being with others, that changes the dynamic.
Each one of us has said at some stage on this holiday, how nice it would be to have that bath. Every one of us is exercising restraint, consideration … And yes, it’s a self-enlightened choice. Smelly housemates, disapproval, other people’s discomfort … Not worth being with.
This morning, noticing my disappointment again, I got a flicker of inspiration. Paint it! See if I can explore the universal human experience of being without some kind of luxury, or of trading off comfort for consideration of others. Have fun exploring a pretty light example of an emotion that could get pretty big in other circumstances.
The materials I used were water colour paints and Derwent Inktense with water brushes.
What is it about the bath? Relaxation? Comfort? Enjoyment? Savouring the joy it can be to be alive. Treating my body like it matters. Rejuvenating.
I imagine a voice snorting, someone exclaiming: “first world problems! You’re lucky to have hot water, or even running water, or even clean water. Not to mention a sanitary cistern that prevents disease.”
Yes, I am grateful for that.
And I also honour the other needs we all share as humans – comfort, pleasure, relaxation, to matter, beauty, appreciation, awe, spirituality even of watching the sun set.
I celebrate too being aware of the other needs that I’m choosing to meet by not having a bath: belonging, community, mattering, self-respect, closeness, appreciation, choice, consideration.
And I’m so grateful to have other ways to connect with the unmet needs, and celebrate the met needs. Painting this picture. Having the time to do it. Creativity, choice, freedom, gratitude, self-expression, learning, appreciation, reflection.
I guess by sharing it here I’m also seeking some connection with you, wanting to offer inspiration for your own self-discovery and peace.
As you look at the image of this bath, is there something that comes up for you? Does an image or memory come to mind? Is there a part of your body that is tight or buzzing or warmed up? Is there something you’re choosing not to use or do right now? Want to make some marks on a page and get to know what it means for you?
P.S I want to give credit to various people who have shaped the ideas that flowed here. You might like to check out their work.
First, the part about the enjoyment that can come from being with unmet needs was inspired by Robert Gonzales. I listened to some of Robert’s courses about self-empathy and embodying nonviolence. I found his guided demonstrations helped me feel safe and even excited to notice “negative” feelings such as disappointment, hurt or fear … Knowing that they are also a chance to connect with needs, and grow capacity to be with myself and others in gentleness and trust when they are working through painful aspects of life.
Also, I am grateful to Connie Solera’s for the free videos she has on dirty footprints-studio.com which encouraged me to play with art every day as a way of peacefully exploring and releasing feelings, enjoying creativity and contentment.
I also have continually deepening gratitude for Marshall Rosenberg’s passionate teachings about self-acceptance and attending to our inner world as the most powerful way to communicate with ourselves or others to receive more of what we need to enjoy life. His book, non-violent communication made so much sense to me when I read it ten years ago. It took me another five or six to seek out people I could practice it with and start to absorb the mindset. I’m grateful to the many online and local teachers who share their own journeys with learning how to collaborate to find solutions to difficult situations with compassion for ourselves and others.
And to my empathy buddies Ed and Penny. And to my life partner and our kids who are my greatest inspiration and teachers when it comes to learning how to communicate authentically and peacefully so that life is more satisfying and fun!
Whoa. Painting sure unlocks a lot of feel-good juices sometimes!