I'm staying in a place in the remote coastal hinterlands of Bolinas, legendary for its semi-reclusive countercultural values and a village for whom thinking globally while acting locally isn't just a feel-good bumper sticker you see on a Volvo—it's a rite of passage for any would-be resident.
My new landlords gave one admonishment when I moved in: Do not waste water. There is a drought, and the water is getting more expensive by the minute.
They are monitoring residents' water use down to the gallon, and all of us who live in the compound have to scale back our usage next month by about five gallons.
To that end, I've mastered the art of the one-minute shower.
There's not much to master: turn on the shower; get in the shower; soap yourself up; rinse yourself off; get out of the shower.
Do not rinse and repeat. Do not linger.
I've always been a guy whose daily shower stood as a kind of Zen retreat in microcosm. I would zone out with my head under the precious hot stream of water while singing that favorite shower song and attempting to get grounded for the day ahead. I have rinsed and repeated, repeatedly.
But despite the momentary mindfulness it provides, a luxuriously long, hot shower is utterly indefensible in these drought-afflicted times.
Every moment of shower-stall meditation wastes gallons of water that could and should be put to much better use by people whose livelihoods depend on water: the farmers who suffer and worry and take steps to maximize whatever scant flow is coming their way.
There's a saying I've always loved that says the key to a happy life lies in our ability to "dance between the raindrops"—but the drought has turned the raindrops proverb on its head.
The rain that arrived last week and over the weekend gave a critically needed reprieve to a bone-dry region—so go out and dance in the raindrops with your bottle of Dr. Bronner's if you really need to extend that shower with an extra rinse-and-repeat.
A more natural and responsible Zen bliss will ensue.
Tom Gogola is a writer living in Bolinas and a contributing editor to the 'Bohemian.' Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.