Room for the Soul

I find myself drawn to the restroom several times a day. You probably do too, since you also have a phone or tablet or laptop or desktop computer and some sort of portal into the internet. And you are likely flush with fortune, because nearly five BILLION humans on earth do not have access to a toilet. But (oh I was so tempted with that conjunction!), you may be one of those, because more people can use bandwidth than can use a clean toilet. This could be a sad statistic and some sort of commentary on social inequity, but it can also be a happy thought: that, whether they care or not, everyone gives a crap, and most of earth can read some inter-thing material while doing it.

To me, these rooms are a wonder of functionality, practicality, and . . . spirituality.

Functionally, they are mostly designed well and contain all the supplies needed to get the job done. They may or not be clean, but they are clean enough. Not always, of course. With divine irony the restroom pictured above was not tidy, and was just today short of supplies. But there were seat covers within reach, and that was just fine. And I tidied up before I left. And with diabolical irony, unintended, after I left that very room and told the management that toilet paper was needed, I got a napkin and asked them to moisten it, saying, “I need an improvised moist towelette also. Oh, for my face! I have some whipped cream on my lower lip from the espresso con panna.”

Regarding practicality, they are models of self-sufficient chambers. A person could do well for days, confined to one. There is running water, space for limited exercise (isometrics require little), and by definition a place to sit and rest. And after a week or so, when hunger sets in, you could slowly eat paper towels, gaining some nutrition from the wood pulp. If you became sensory deprived after a time, you could simply move a lever and imagine a finale to a symphony of winds, or go to the sink and run some water, imagining a clear, cool stream. Thinking is easy in such places, as they are usually quiet and free of distraction.

After a show recently, a larger one of these rooms was bustling. Graciously, it was only a brief interlude of the bustle, and it quickly became quiet again. I stood at the wide mirror looking into it, all alone with that other me, delayed in time by the speed of reflected light, and the music being piped in was “The Little Drummer Boy.” I am a drummer, so I gathered all of the stray post-show paper towels, and used a few clean ones to wipe down the counter, all the while singing in harmony with that Christmas song. And I thought of Christmas, and its truest meaning, and the nature of service, and that if I did not clean up the mess of others, someone else would have to. And I was in no hurry, but the other human, that someone else who would have to clean up the mess of humanity, might be ready to go home after the show, having worked all day setting the stage, taking tickets, mixing drinks, running the sound or lighting. Or, he might–at this very moment–be singing along too . . .

Spiritually speaking, I pray in them. Always. It is me there in such a space, pared down to my most base being, doing a thing that is common to all of us, but usually private. I am alone, but part of the global village of all men and women, and I like both of those thoughts and I need both of those realities. That I am only me and there is no other like me. And so are you, just you and no one else. Ever. There has never been, nor will there ever be, another you or me. And yet, we are bound together by that very nature.

And I am emptying myself there, at many levels, and that is a perfect time to pray, when empty.  So, I do . . .

I did, up there, before I took that picture and I tidied up a bit and got it furnished for the next person to come along and go.

Farewell for now, dear reader. That nature that binds us together, it just called . . .