Filipinos are wont to say “I took a bath” instead of the more accurate “I took a shower.” They both mean the same to us, but there’s a slight difference, of course. Taking a shower means having running water falling from a shower head several inches above a person done usually to start the day or after a strenuous physical activity while taking a bath is submerging one’s body in a warm or cold water contained within a, what else, bath tub.
I have begun cultivating this desire for afternoon baths ever since I moved to Augustine house uphill. Though I am often stricken with a feeling of guilt whenever I am right in the middle of one of these, due maybe to my environmental stand and those pamphlets distributed before to high schoolers that warned us about the dangers of living a comfortable life that leads to climate change, scarcity of fresh water, and other negative impacts on the environment. It was repeatedly iterated to us that comfort is sinful, destructive, and immoral. I still vividly remember an illustration showing how many pails of water are saved when one’s using pail and dipper to take a shower compared with using either a shower head or a bath tub.
And whenever I deprived myself of the comforts of modern living, I felt good because in a way I knew I was doing my share in saving the environment. So instead of using to pails of water for my morning shower, I limited it to the barest minimum of a pail or, if I am too passionate about saving Mother Earth, half a pail.
It never occurred to me to question the rationale behind this thinking. How could a boy from an unknown part of a country in the backwaters of the world have an impact on the moves to save the environment, or save the world from man-made destruction by attempting to save a pail and a half of water? I had kept myself from enjoying the convenience modern technology has offered my generation because I thought that my little ways will in any way change the tide.
Here in the US, Americans do not heed all these calls for changing their ways and living in a sustainable way. Waste reflects consumption and the more one consumes the more highly it will reflect affluence, the cornerstone of the American dream. The more conspicuous is consumption, therefore the more waste is produced, the better upheld is this value.
I stood up from the shackles of the bathtub, washed myself with warm water, pat myself dry, and left the bathroom without looking back at the dirty water draining out of the ultimate symbol of American comfort.