(published Nov 22nd through my newsletter)

It’s true. I have not had the exquisite pleasure of being drenched with a warm human-made waterfall in over 30 days.

I used to take 2-3 showers a day in NYC. (Although it was probably more of an energetic thing than a cleanliness thing.)

On this little desert ranch, there’s no such luxury. Yet, I’m cleaner than ever.

So how do I bathe? Boil water. Washcloth. Soap. When my hair needs to be washed, I use two pots, flip my head upside down, drench it, lather it, then use a little tin cup to pour fresh water over my hair to rinse it clean. Towel down with a thin Turkish towel.

In fact, I’ve turned bathing into a ritual of sorts. Well, let’s be real, I’ve turned my entire life into a ritual. But bathing has gotten special attention.

Mindfully washing each part of my body, instead of just zoning out under a stream of warm water, is quite different.

It is deepening my relationship with my physical form. All the little shames that arise around body and nudity can be avoided in a mindless shower – you don’t even have to look down.

But Scamp camper bathing means I must be present with the task, present with each body part… I must care.

Have you ever bathed a sick loved one?

There’s such tenderness in it. You know they are afraid, weak, embarrassed… but you feel such love… the honor of getting to be so close to them in their most vulnerable state.

This care can also be applied to one’s own body.

After bathing comes extensive oil moisturizing, then thick socks to bake my feet in the oil so they don’t turn into cracked desert cacti.

This bathing ritual contains the ongoing theme of taking responsibility for all the parts of daily living… for every bit of garbage I produce, for fetching jugs of water, for each food purchase I make, because there’s no space for waste or excess.

The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons of water. These camper “showers” uses about a half gallon.

It’s not so noble, I just don’t have the luxury of unconscious excess in this lifestyle.

And so, the realization has dawned that I never consciously chose that luxury to begin with. It was something foisted upon me – like the two years of orthodontics to “fix” my gapped teeth. (I sometimes wonder, was that part of me really broken? Would it have been so bad to go through life with gapped teeth?)

I wonder… What luxuries has the world assumed you wanted, that you’ve been working like a steam-engine to maintain, without ever stopping to ask if you really care for them? Are they still worth it?

 

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