“It’s amazing the difference /A bit of sky can make.” ― Shel Silverstein
What is your difficulty?
I was in Taiwan eating at a restaurant locals enjoy. I had to go the bathroom.
When I opened the door to the bathroom, all I saw was a white-tiled room with a hole in the floor and a large, unscreened open window with a land-sky vista of a clear night.
What feelings arose?
I felt modest and afraid someone could peer in.
I felt trapped.
I felt uninformed, like I should know how to use a floor toilet but don’t.
Curiosity about the night sky, and a tiny bit of calm while at the window.
How did your difficulty affect you?
I walked out of the bathroom and then realized that I was in a remote location and needed to pee. I’d flown from another city to this city to have dinner with our hosts. I wondered if I could hold my pee until we got back to the airport.
I walked back in.
What did you learn?
Though uncomfortable, I felt a little “lost in translation” and wanted to experience the culture as if I belonged.
The view made me temporarily forget why I was in this room. Startled by an urge to go, I turned and looked at that hole in the floor. I spent about ten minutes thinking about how I could pee. How do I pull my slacks and panties down and forward away from the hole? Do I take my clothes off? My thoughts helped.
I learned that what I wear can affect my pee process. I was wearing a long flowing pantsuit and didn’t know how to pee without getting pee on my clothes.
Short dresses work best for floor toilets.
I noticed a creative response—I imagined designing underwear that unsnaps or unhooks and rolls up.
Peeing in high heels is different than peeing in flat shoes. It’s harder to balance on one foot in high heels.
I learned that I need to exercise and that doing squats has a purpose: to aid using a hole-in-the-floor toilet.
I learned that I didn’t ask for help or know about floor toilets before this trip.
What can you shift or turn around in your feelings or thoughts?
Rather than get uptight, I thought about the camping trips my friends tell me about where they take a little shovel to dig a hole to pee and poop.
I thought about the people in the restaurant. They use floor toilets with ease. If they can pee in a hole in the floor, I can.
I thought of the window as offering fresh air and ventilation instead of worrying about a voyeur.
I let myself delight in the humid breeze .
How did you choose to respond to or work with this difficulty?
I decided to take off all of my clothes.
I carefully took my right foot out of one heel, pulled my leg out of my pantsuit and put my foot back in the shoe while balancing on one foot. I did the same thing with my left foot. I repeated this and took off my underwear. I pulled my top over my head and unhooked my bra. I hung each article of clothing along with my long necklace on a wall hook.
I walked back to the hole wearing nothing but my high heels. I faced the window and straddled the hole in the floor.
I squatted and peed.
I held the squat for over 3 minutes because when I hold pee for a long time, it takes time to release. Looking out the window, I spotted a star, which became a helpful distraction from my aching hamstring muscles.
There was no toilet paper. I waited for the drips to end. When I stood up my legs were shaking.
I laughed! Then dressed and walked over to the window. I heard frogs and crickets.
How might you use what you learn to benefit yourself and others?
What comes to mind is that perhaps this will help me approach new experiences with a more open, can-do sense of adventure. And to use the night sky when I feel uncomfortable.
Benefit others? When I recognize I’m reacting to someone doing something unfamiliar to me, I’ll remember that there are a variety of ways to live. And pee.
Susan. The United States.