I have always enjoyed reading stories about men and women who spend a lot of time in the bathtub. Recently I read a short, absurd, twisted French novel (I can not remember the title or the author’s name at the moment and I can not go search for the small book in my stack of books since I am currently in a bathtub). In the novel the protagonist has committed himself for life to his bathtub. I became fascinated by what this would be like. How would it feel to spend day after day lying around in a bathtub? There would be no water- just a lot of pillows, blankets and books.
I decided to try it out. I am at perfect time in my life where I can actually spend a lot of time in a tub. I have mastered the machinations of my mind enough so that I am confident that my mind can not get the best of me. Most people who would be locked away in a bathroom for days on end might experience a degree of psychological duress that could cause them to tip over into insanity or violence. I, however, am able to keep my calm. Even though my thoughts might be telling me all kinds of things that could make my stay in the bathtub unpleasant, I know how not to believe everything I think.
Currently, I have been in this tub for three days. My goal is to spend at least four or five days in the tub. I have no real desire to leave the bathroom. As I write this now, with my laptop perched on the side of the tub, I feel as comfortable as I have felt in some of the worlds finest five-star hotels. I don’t have many needs (other than to be left alone and to get a lot of rest) and I rather like the solitude that I have found here in my tub.
I am fortunate though. I have a loving and supportive wife who brings me food and whatever else I request. Just this morning I asked her to get me a chocolate bar, the New York Times newspaper, a can of tuna fish, a loaf of bread, some gluten-free cookies, a kale juice and within a matter of an hour I had all these things with me in the tub. I realize that most would not have this good fortune. Most men in their mid-forties with a wife, a house and a plethora of other worldly responsibilities would not receive this kind of support if they decided to drop out of the world and spend their time in a bathtub. I know and I am thankful.
My wife thinks I need the rest. She has been concerned about the amount that I work and the toll my work sometimes takes on my health. When I was telling her about the French novel I was reading she is the one who came up with the idea.
“Why don’t you do that for bit?”
“Why don’t you take some time of and just relax in our bathtub?”
I immediately thought this was a great idea. I mean why not? I have always been fascinated by people who retire to their tubs. Why should I not go ahead and do the same thing?
“You sure that would be ok?”
“Yes my love.”
“What about work and all the bills we need to pay?”
“My love, your health is much more important than our wealth. Besides you are fortunate that you made all that money years ago. You no longer need to strain yourself in the way you do. You are at a point in your life where you can spend some time in the tub.”
“You are genius. What a great idea.”
I began my stay in the tub that evening. I may decide to spend the entire week in the tub. My back is sore and my body does want to move but I am not worried about it. I am able to meditate, read my books and just contemplate various things in my mind. This tends to keep my mind off of the more uncomfortable sensations in my body. Just this morning my wife scrubbed the bathroom clean and now the lavender scent that was in the bathroom cleaner seems to have relaxed my mind and body. I am quite content here in my bathtub and could remain here for awhile.
In the French novel that I recently read, the protagonist confines himself to his tub because he no longer wants to be apart of the madness of human life. He feels that humans have become the most troubled animal on earth and he wants to disassociate from the human population so that he can find some peace. He never finds the peace that he was looking for because even in the solitude of his bathroom he is not able to get away from being human. Contained within his mind and body is all the madness that he was wanting to flee from. At the end of the novel the protagonist drowns in his bathtub.
I have no intention of drowning in my tub. As nice as it is to be removed from the outside world, it is not without its challenges. My mind and body do generate a lot of difficult thoughts and sensations but fortunately I am able to calm myself down and not get too caught up in all the madness. I am able to recline, relax and read even though my mind and body are sometimes wanting to get out of the tub and go for a walk. “There will be plenty of time to walk, just sit here,” I tell myself.
My wife is an excellent cook. This evening I have requested eggplant parmesan with a side of steamed spinach drenched in garlic and olive oil. I have also asked my wife to get me a nice bottle of red wine. I know that she wants my stay in the bathtub to be without difficulty so I suppose I have been taking some advantage of her kindness. This morning I requested a cup of green tea, three cheese omelet with reishi mushrooms and a side of vegan turkey sausages. She made me much more than I needed to eat.
What should I do with the rest of my day? It is almost late afternoon and I have a stack of books on the side of the tub that I still want to read. Maybe I will turn over and take a nap once I am finished writing this. Maybe I will do some stretching. Maybe I will use the toilet and then take a quick shower. Maybe I should spend some time reviewing some memories that I have been going over in my mind. So many choices. Life in a prison cell can not be all that bad. When a person spends all their time in a confined space the irony is that so much space opens up. The busyness of life no longer squeezes out the space all around. Maybe I will just sit here for awhile and enjoy the space.
Even though I am spending all my time in a bathtub filled with pillows and other things, I realize that what I am really bathing in is all this space. It is what I needed most.
Maybe this is why I am so drawn to stories about people who spend all their time in bathtubs.