Denial and disowning. Out of sight, out of mind. Hiding our toxic waste. Who knew that our toilets could be such powerful metaphors for our times, or repositories of so much wasted wisdom? Your toilet has more to say than you might think.
OS: Oh, boy. I'm not sure I want to do this one.
Toilet: What—the interview? Or...
OS: Yes, the interview! Not... the other.
Toilet: Well, take a seat and let's talk about it. Lid down, please. I won't be able to concentrate, otherwise.
OS: Well, of course! [I sit on the closed lid.] This is not a topic most people want to talk about—and I'm not sure they'll want to read about it, either.
Toilet: Well, that's never stopped you before. In fact, isn't that what you love to do—be a shit-stirrer?
OS: Well, yes, but this is a lot of... um...
Toilet: A shitload of reality, is what it is.
OS: Exactly what people don't want, like I said.
Toilet: It's exactly what you're gonna give them, then. So let's just get on with it. Shit or get off the pot, right?
OS: Aghhh. Okay, okay. So... here's something I've always wondered about, although I seem to be in the minority: Where does it all go??
Toilet: All the shit, you mean?
OS: Yes! We flush it all down the toilet, wash our hands and get on with our lives. We never give it a second thought.
Toilet: And I make sure it all stays out of sight, with my nice curvy S-bend plumbing and auto-filling cistern.
OS: Out of sight, out of mind—the wonderful American Standard. How can we be so blasé about something this important? Our cities are packed with high-rise buildings, with hundreds of people living in each one—all flushing their toilets. I can't imagine the tonnage of body waste that must be pouring out, every day, and going... somewhere. Where does it all go?
Toilet: Some of it gets treated, and some of it goes straight into the ocean.
OS: But it's our ocean—the source of the fish we eat, the seaweed we harvest... How can we be so short-sighted? How come this subject is not high on the political agenda when a mayor or politician is running for office?
Toilet: Yeah, right. I can see them doing a poll as part of their campaign: How do you feel about this shitty issue: a) You care and you want to take action. b) You care and you want someone else to take action, through higher taxes. c) You just don't give a shit. My guess would be (c), for most people.
OS: Yet there's so much talk about sustainability, values-based business and all that nice-sounding eco-friendly-speak, while tons of raw sewage are rushing by, right under our feet.
Toilet: People don't want to be bothered with that nasty, smelly stuff. They want their lives to be nice and clean.
OS: But aren't our ecosystems reaching their limit?
Toilet: Sure, just like your bodies are. You're doing just as much toxic dumping internally as you are into the environment. Same old micro–macro yada yada...
OS: People don't want to take responsibility for themselves, which means they won't take responsibility for their environment, either.
Toilet: Sometimes they're so busy dealing with the other shit in their lives that they can't face the shit inside—or the fact that they're actively poisoning the world in which they're so determined to have a good time or distract themselves from their pain, no matter what.
OS: You're quite articulate, for a toilet.
Toilet: Well, people do a lot of ruminating when they're sitting on me. They talk to themselves, they read out loud, they pour out all their problems. I feel like a hairdresser who can't talk back, but I learn a lot.
OS: But don't you think that taking personal responsibility for all our, um, shit would change everything? In some places, we now have special green bins for our organic food waste. Why can't there be something similar for our bodily waste? If we were forced to deal with that every day, how would that change things?
Toilet: Well, there'd be a lot more constipation, for one thing, but the pharmaceutical companies would love it. They'd probably come up with a new drug for composting your crap while it's still inside you, so that it came out all lovely and green, in tight little bales, smelling of citrus and ready for spreading on the lawn or growing your own vegetables. Real recycling, you might say—out one end, in the other, rather than the other way around.
OS: Hey, that's not a bad idea. They could call it Lax-U-lawn or Fibertilizer. And they could spread it on all those endless acres growing wheat and oats, rather than using the chemical stuff. Gives a whole new meaning to Crapola Granola.
Toilet: It would never work, though. There are too many toxins in your food. Your crap would be crap.
OS: The problem's at the other end, then.
Toilet: Isn't it always.
OS: Why IS that?
Toilet: If you paid more attention to what's coming out—and you had to deal with it, hands-on—you might be a bit more discerning about what you put into your system. You should see the stuff that comes out of people—
OS: Oh, no. Please don't...
Toilet: See? That's your problem, right there. You should all be able to talk about the shape, size and texture of your stools as readily and unselfconsciously as you talk about all the different coffee beans at your local café. You could have fun with it.
Toilet: You could come up with all kinds of colourful, affectionate names and categories for the stuff: Roasted Himalayan Yak Turds. French-roast Fatty Floaters. Double Espresso Sludge. Americano Inky-stinky-pooh. Super-pungent Rectal Resistors... that kind of thing.
OS: What about crappuccino?
Toilet: Now you're talking! See how easy it is, once you get going?
OS: I'm thinkin' a cappuccino could actually lead to a crappuccino, with all that dairy congesting the system...
Toilet: You're right about that.
OS: Apart from the fun factor, though, what would be the point of getting all graphic about our bowel movements—our BMs...?
Toilet: Your poop is a very reliable indicator of your health—physical and emotional. And it's a great leveller...
OS: Ha. I can just imagine people going into the office in the morning and chatting with their employer. Yo, boss, how were the shits, this morning? Backed up a bit? Oh, sorry to hear that. Must be those tight-assed company policies... Guys could come up with some great chat-up lines for the secretaries: Hey, babe, will you be my BM BFF?
Toilet: Well, it would have to become the accepted norm, of course, which might take a while. But just imagine how things would be if you could all share at that level of raw honesty, without shame or guilt.
OS: Is that why there's so much constipation in our world—all that guilt and shame?
Toilet: Of course. Everyone's holding on, holding back, afraid to really let go and be themselves. Same reason they eat such crap, too—trying to make up for not feeling worthy, confident or lovable. Just how lovable would you all feel if other people could see what comes out of you?
OS: But maybe that's why it's not always nice or easy—we're so consternated, we're constipated, which causes all kinds of backlogs and unhealthy festering... rather than cleanly letting go of the past and, well, loving our shit as well as ourselves.
Toilet: The waste in your system has already been digested and processed—or should have been. If you can't let it go, it means you're holding onto a past that holds nothing good for you. You've already taken from it everything it can give you. Holding on creates toxic waste matter, which means you're poisoning yourselves with your past—your regrets, recriminations and missed opportunities. You can't be present, loving and powerful with all that stuff backing up inside you.
OS: Seems as if this kind of problem often needs to be in our face before we address it. Unless we get our noses rubbed in it, figuratively speaking, we'll just keep ignoring it.
Toilet: Forget the 'figuratively'. You've got to change your crappy attitude to this stuff. Your crapitude is killing you.
OS: But how do we change it?
Toilet: Reframe the way you view it. Think of SHIT as Simply Humanity In Transit. Life's just passing through you. But it's part of you, like the blood in your veins. You must love it and listen to it. Ignoring it means that you're flushing tons of valuable life-enhancing clues down the toilet.
OS: I can see that it's a crucial indicator for what's going on inside.
Toilet: More than that, it holds huge potential—for you and for the planet. Think of CRAP as Creating Resources And Power. With the right mindset and technology, all that waste could be turned into fabulous, revenue-generating, clean fuels and fertilizers, among other things.
OS: So it's not dirty or shameful...
Toilet: ...unless you make it so, which you do. You disown it when it's in your body—like a fart (It wasn't me!). It's like saying: That dreadful pong couldn't possibly have come from my pristine, well-cared-for, diligently-fed, pure body. Right?
OS: I get it. What we're putting in is often as unhealthy as what we're ashamed of coming out.
Toilet: And you disown it when it's out of your body, sending it straight underground, into the sewers, out of sight. Then you disown it when the seas get fouled up.
OS: So we need to claim it back. We need to take ownership of it and make it a really good thing.
Toilet: It IS a really good thing—or can be, if you treat it right. It's only waste if you don't use it. And it's only toxic if you abuse it—or yourselves.
OS: Sounds as if we need a revolution—a whole new movement.
Toilet: Definitely. Best not to call it the Bowel Movement, though. Might put people off.
OS: Got any other suggestions, before we put the lid on this thing?
Toilet: It's obvious; you should call it FLUSH.
OS: What does that stand for—Feeling Lucky... Until Shit Happens?
Toilet: I was thinking more along the lines of: Finding Life-enhancing Uses for Shit from Humans.