I have been spending a lot of time sitting in my bathtub. I do not fill the bathtub with water nor do I take off my clothes. Instead I climb into the bathtub fully clothed and sit down. Sometimes I will light a candle or a stick of incense to create ambience, however it is not often that I do this. Instead I just climb into the bathtub like a man retreating from the noise of the world. I shut the tub doors and burrow myself between the white walls of the tub. I stare at the silver waterspout covered with grime and at the ceiling that seems to be slightly water-logged. My tub is not a fancy one. It is a humble tub; a bathroom not fit for kings or even princes- instead it is a tub for a man who is not quite sure how he fits into this world.
Often times I will stay in the bathtub for hours. When my wife is not frustrated with me, she will bring me a snack, tea or a glass of water. She will sit down on the leaking toilet besides the tub and try and make conversation with me. She will ask me questions such as “What is wrong?” or “Why are you laying in the tub again?” When I am in the tub I am not in the mood for conversation. I do not feel like explaining myself to anyone and I will often try and evade my wife’s questions by denying that there is a problem. I tell her that I am just trying to relax. “I need to take it easy because my heart and stomach hurts,” I tell her. How can she argue with a man in distress? She cannot, so she just pouts out a quiet “okay” and tells me to let her know if I need anything before she leaves me alone in the bathroom.
The bathtub is a safe place for me. In the tub there is nothing that I have to get done, no one that I have to become and no place that I am needing to go. It is as if the tub freezes all time and space. I do not find myself worrying in the bathtub like I do in the outside world. Instead I think about my life, my past, present and future. I review my life with a microscopic attention to detail. I listen to the wind chimes outside the bathroom window and imagine what the clouds must look like as they float across the sky. I am never really able to fall asleep in tub- but sometimes I slip into a state of nirvana so wide and deep that I am no longer a resident of my physical body.
I got the idea to spend time sitting in my bathtub after I read the short novel “The Bathroom,” by Jean-Philippe Toussaint. In the novel, the main protagonist who is around my age spends the great majority of his time meditating in his bathtub. His girlfriend and friends, who all come and visit him in the bathroom, support his eccentric quest for immobility. When reading the novel I was in a rather distressing place in my own life. I was unemployed, imbued with chronic anxiety, haunted by feelings of failure and depressed. The idea of a quest for immobility while sitting in a bathtub appealed to me so much so that I decided to give it a try. I would see if spending my time in a bathtub would be as helpful for me as it was for the protagonist in the novel. In many ways it has been. I have become calmer, more present, less ambitious and grounded. I have been drinking less and I feel much more excited about my life. Unfortunately my family has not been as supportive of my quest for immobility as I would like. My wife is worried about me and my mother calls almost every day. She leaves messages on my answering machine, telling me that I need to get off of my ass and find a job.
Sometimes I write while in the tub (like I am doing now) but it is not easy. My intellectual faculties are not as keen in the tub, my writing is not as sharp and my spelling is poor. Today I asked my wife if she would bring a radio for me into the bathroom. She did so against her will and I appreciate that she was willing to martyr herself for me. I have been listening to the classical music station on my radio all afternoon. There is something about the sounds of a violin or piano while lying in a bathtub, which makes it easier for me to write. The words seem to get along and all I have to do is conduct them into the right place on the page.
I do not know how much more time I am going to spend in the tub. As of now, I spend my afternoons and evenings in the bathtub. I may even start to sleep in the bathtub if my wife will not mind. It seems to me like the current world is a pretty mixed up place. With the recessions, wars, greed and environmental catastrophes that are raging out there– it seems to me like the bathtub is the safest and most sensible place to be. If the apocalypse is soon to come at least I am spending my time wisely, happily. I am a satisfied man in my bathtub and I think this is a grand accomplishment in our world that is so riddled with deadlines, desire, dis-satisfaction and dis-ease. It is windy today and outside the bathroom window the wind chime are playing my favorite song. My wife has just left the house and now I get to sit here all evening, quiet and alone in my bathtub.