A Growing Appreciation For The Human Mind

A friend told me once, many years ago, that when she and her then boyfriend used to live in a tiny apartment, she’d sometimes close the bathroom door, sit on the toilet and read a book.

I must have held on to this memory because it seemed funny to me then (it still does) and also surprising. I remember wondering what it must be like to live with someone for years, in a rather small space, and not have enough personal space, so much so that you go to the toilet for time alone.

This memory of my friend in the toilet with a book resurfaced recently when my partner started joking that I was “disappearing into the toilet”. I can’t say that I willingly decided one day to go to the toilet to spend time alone, like my creative and inspiring friend. I think it was a gradual process for me - I just started spending more and more time there.

My partner finds a TON of joy in this.

He fake-looks for me in our 40 m2 apartment (Oh my, where has my love gone? Haven’t seen her in a while… Did she leave???) and teases me with a “I missed you when I “finally” emerge.

I must say I felt like I reached a new milestone in the living-with-your-partner journey when I connected my increasing time at the toilet to my friend’s (who’s still happily married by the way). And it dawned on me that IF (a big if) I was willingly going to the toilet to spend some time alone, that wouldn’t be so bizarre in the midst of a global pandemic, after months of lockdown.

But more importantly, what I realized today, as I was contemplating if I could write about toilets in a newsletter, is this:

If I was disappearing into the toilet, that wouldn’t be so bizarre either.

The toilet, for all we know, could have magical properties like the Floo network in Harry Potter. It could shrink me into a fish and allow me to travel through the intricate and ancient sewage systems of Paris. I could hop back into my human body to take a stroll through the Catacombs, I could come across one of those crazy drug parties young Parisians are supposedly having in drainage holes these days (with a lot of drugs). I could then hop back into my fish body and swim across the Seine, or turn into a bird (seagull, perhaps) and fly away in the big blue sky.

Would I fly all the way to Istanbul?

Who knows - I could even run into Nemo or Ariel along the way.

No, none of this would be bizarre.

Magical, yes, certainly. A product of my imagination, yes, for sure.

But not bizarre.

And this is the beauty of the human mind, isn’t it?

What is a magical toilet compared to the many grand scenarios created by the human mind? Written, directed, acted by the same set of pathways? Loving loves never loved, ending stories that never started, solving problems that never existed? The profound philosophies of a meaningful life, the great debates about what is right, the best Disney movies all there at once within the boundless confines of your mind.

I don’t know where you are on this (de)confinement journey, dear friend. If you’re anywhere close to me, you’re having some sleepless nights, some restless thoughts about the future, and some moments of normalcy when the day ahead cunningly seems like it will be just another day.

I wonder if in the midst of your ups and downs, you’re also embarking on many wonderful journeys in your own mind, some to joy and some to sorrow, and some maybe even to magical toilets.

Don’t forget to go a little crazy and to enjoy the journey - the boundlessness of the human mind can be our salvation.

A mindfulness lesson from Ariel: If you are Under the Sea, that might not be so bad :)
This is the 30 second pep talk a friend gives himself when he's struggling: just keep swimming! :)

Reflection Questions

  1. Are you spending an increased amount of time in the toilet? (Just kidding! 😘)
  2. Did your mind take a “magical but not bizarre” journey recently? Where did you go? How did you enjoy it?
  3. Do you make time to daydream? What are some places and moments in which daydreaming becomes more available to you?