December 23, 2011

Naked, Wet and Inspired

The title sounds like an erotic intro, but I assure you, it isn’t. What I’m referring to is a strange phenomenon that inevitably occurs when I’m in the shower—inspiration. I don’t even have to be suffering from writer’s block; I might think my plot and characters are just fine, thank you very much. But when I’m in the shower, minding to the business of getting clean for the day, some part of my brain that is presumably occupied when I’m doing most anything else, is finally free to produce some of my best ideas. Why is that?

Let’s examine some possibilities.

Scent – Aromatherapy researchers have shown that scent can temporarily relieve everything from stress to insomnia to PMS. All I know is: when I’m scanning the grocery store aisle for shampoo, I open the cap, sniff, and base my decision on what to buy on how good it smells. Maybe the process of lathering and rinsing combined with a flowery, fruity fragrance opens up more than just my nasal passages.

Heat – There are very few more pleasurable things in life than the first few moments after stepping under a hot shower spray. Unlike the unpleasant goosebumps that sprout when our husbands or male co-workers insist on keeping the air-conditioner at a frigid 72-degrees, warm water sets off an exquisite chain reaction in the skin. Minescule arectores pilorum muscles attached to each and every hair on the human body react to cold by pulling the hair upright. It is theorized that this functioned as a way to make early man look bigger and more formidable when threatened, by poofing him up (the idea of a poofy, hairy man certainly frightens me). Nowadays, goosebumps in the shower set the stage for what follows:

Relaxation – Breathe that steamy air in…and out. Upon each exhale feel your shoulders dropping as the tension loosens its hold on your neck. We don’t need a yoga instructor to call out instructions guiding us through this part—it’s fully instinctive.

White noise – Sitting in my writing chair, my ears are constantly assaulted by the noises of the household. The base boom of my husband’s computer speakers coming through the office wall as he plays a video game or watches a movie. The incessant chat-chat-chatter from my son as he whirrs around the house like a hummingbird. The click-click-click of the dog’s claws on the wood floor, and his urgent barking at the slightest noise from outside. People actually buy machines that produce constant, soothing sounds to drown out external noise and promote sleep and relaxation. Inside the shower stall, all that can be heard is the steady shush of falling water, a welcome, natural white noise.

Solitude – There are very few places one can go to escape from the world. Even in bed, most of us have to share our space (“Keep your crusty man-feet on your side!"). In the shower, once the glass door steams up, and I can no longer see my cat staring intently at me with his huge, round blue eyes, I’m all by myself. No one judging me; no expectations. Alllll alone.

Refreshment – Clean is good. Just the act of literally and symbolically washing away the day creates a feeling of accomplishment and sets the stage for a receptive mood. I’m clean, I’m relaxed, I’m alone. The shower is my meditation chamber. Let the ideas come!


  1. Hah, it's true, showers are weirdly conducive to suddenly being able to think and figure things out! My vote for most-relevant-factors goes to the isolation elements: solitude and white noise. Away, world, away!!!

  2. Hahahaa. Crusty man-feet and poofy, hairy man made me lol. Your theories have merit, grasshoppa.

  3. I felt a bit shocked to come across this. I've wondered for quite some time if I'm the only one that gets my best thoughts while, um eh hem, showering. It's not unusual for me to burst forth from the shower (I shower at night so at least my kiddos are in bed) and race to the computer to make sure I get the fabulous thoughts down. I loved how you analyzed the whys. I've admitted before one of my favorite things in the world is having my hair washed, so this is making more sense to me.
    Fun post,
    ~ Wendy