• Arabella Thaïs

The Outdoor Shower

Bridging the gap between Reality and Fantasy...

When it comes to a few of my favourite things, outdoor showers are up there. It must be because I come from England, with its consistently inconsistent sunshine, and reliable smattering of drizzle drenched skies. The closest I have ever gotten to an outdoor shower in England is running naked through garden sprinklers (when I was a child, I might add).

Outdoor showers represent the polar opposite of Britain’s tedious meteorological limitations. They are such stuff as dreams are made of – the realm of balmy climates – sun baked days and the sensation of saltwater on naked flesh – an altogether different life. Indeed – it is now the life that I live.

The act of showering outside suggests a certain uninhibitedness – to have one’s body exposed to the elements; the possibility, however slight, of being seen by the eyes of another. The outdoor shower flirts with the notion of voyeurism, and plays with taboo. This is very different to the interior bathroom; to the shower that is unequivocally concealed and hidden from view – the kind that England does so well. Good old Blighty.

So, isn’t there something inherently free about an outdoor shower? Something liberated, emancipated, empowered, almost. I certainly think so. An outdoor shower takes that most intimate of moments – the act of washing oneself – and relocates it. It reconnects the ritual act of bathing with its original location – outside. Outdoor showers speak to lakes and waterfalls, to rivers and natural pools – an altogether different time; a time from before. And, just like that, the whole concept of showering is radically transformed. I, for one, like to interpret this as symbolising a joyous emancipation from society’s strictures.

There is something wonderfully primal about the outdoor shower – how it embraces the human body and evokes a sense of freedom and rebellion. Indeed, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (the 18th century French philosopher) said that man could never return to a state of nature – but I think the outdoor shower might have just proved him wrong.

The luxury of showering outside elevates what is basically a mundane and necessary process in to an event in itself. It celebrates the everyday. It brings us back to ourselves, for we are all corporeal creatures, after all. In this day and age, anything that encourages us to connect with ourselves, rather than a screen, is something to be honoured.  

So, outdoor showers bring us back to the reality of our bodies, and yet they still inhabit the realm of fantasy. They blur the boundaries between inside and outside, between the routine reality of taking a shower, and a fantasy life far away from the land of traffic jams, Starbucks, and the Subway at rush hour. Just like that liminal space between waking and dreaming, outdoor showers inhabit the space between reality and fantasy. They beckon us toward a textured life, to a greater ease in living. To sleep, perchance to dream – yes – but sometimes waking life can feel like a dream. The outdoor shower has always encapsulated this for me. Living life as though it were itself a dream (memo: it is).

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