‘Sad Girl’ Hates Nature, Tries Floating In A Sensory Deprivation Tank Instead
Welcome to ‘Sad Girl Tries Things,’ a new series in which a very sad girl tries different things to try and feel happy.
I f Henry David Thoreau were alive when I first read Walden in tenth grade, I would have wished him imprisonment — so I could have sent him poetry (and photographs of my boobies!) through the prison post to secure our bond as kindred spirits.
When I was 15 I had it bad for all of the skulking ideologists from AP Lit’s predominantly white male authored syllabus — dime-pieces like characters Holden Caulfield, Ethan Frome, Guy Montague, and John Motherfucking Proctor — but my resonance with HDT was next-level fangirl.
I perceived we had commonalities: both uneasy in our respective social constructs, cynical of conformity and material excess, and decidedly more comfortable alone. He was sarcastic and poetic and at 15 I wanted to die in extended-metaphor penning arms.
When I was 15 I had it bad for all of the skulking ideologists from AP Lit’s predominantly white male authored syllabus.
ENTER, PLOT TWIST!
I don’t like nature. I go camping for the drugs and the hot dogs and I have no doubt Thoreau would have thought my transcendentalism off-brand. So despite having every intention of submerging myself in free and bountiful nature for the sake of quelling my Mount Olympus-level anxiety this week, the closest I came to doing so was driving past a field on my way to the holistic center — the holistic center where I would spend 60 minutes floating in a deprivation chamber learning how to get reborn.
I don’t like nature. I go camping for the drugs and the hot dogs.
SENSORY DEPRIVATION TANK: THE POST-POSTMODERN NATURE
First, a little context on the current state of things: I am losing my shit.
My to-do list feels like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole and my mallet is being compromised by a spectrum of troubles. What troubles? All of them, Mom. It boils down to the housecoat of depression I wear, making the tasks of adulthood feel like compounding burdens; I have the hyper-awareness of knowing I am functioning poorly in a world that ensures I can’t.
So I sought out the float tank because I’m sick of thinking (read: complaining) about myself. I can’t quiet my mind and need 200 lbs of salt water to do it for me. Let’s go.
THE AWAKEN CENTER FOR WELLNESS
It smells like warm air and plants and essential oils — so — the exact opposite of my drafty apartment and its many soiled coffee cups. Ben at the front desk treats me with an agenda-less politeness, that I, a person who works in advertising, do not understand. He asks what brought me here and I say ‘Google’ before clarifying that I do not understand how people live life easily or joyfully and I cannot, for the life of me, free my mind (or my devices) from the noise of trying to do so.
After checking a box that says I’m not currently under the influence of hallucinogens, I follow Ben to the tank.
Welcome to ‘Sad Girl Tries Things,’ a new series in which a very sad girl tries different things to try and feel happy.theestablishment.co
The Float Tank looks like a podular, futuristic water bed because it is one. A pond within a shell within a room, it houses many gallons of hyper-dense epsom salt solution — salt water that will cradle my body, allowing me to float in silent, pitch darkness until all my dreams come true. Ben says one hour of sleep in the pod is equal to four hours of sleep ‘out there.’ I shower, shove balls of wax in my ears, step naked into the chamber and lower its hood.
Lying back, I actually shudder. My body has, one hundred percent, never escaped total gravity before. It feels like Savasana—but suspended—and I’m left with the sensation that I am almost floating upwards. I’m very aware this is as close to ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ as I’ll ever get without being dead.
There is no concept of time in the pod and because I’ve told no one where I am and put my phone on motherfucking airplane mode, I am, in essence, blissfully invisible. I open my eyes, close them, open them. I try and make out the shape of my hand in front of my face and can’t. My hearing, stifled by wax, lets me turn inward where listening to my breath sounds like waves crashing. I am in awe of the machine of my body and amazed at how easy it is to create a barrier between myself and intrusive thoughts.
I think I fall asleep because at one point I ‘wake up’ with the sensation of not knowing where I am and panic for a millisecond. A few controlled breaths ease the worry back; I’m still here and still technically invisible…dead for probably 32 more minutes.
I’m very aware this is as close to ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ as I’ll ever get without being dead.
Soon, Ben pumps tranquil music into the tank to indicate time is real and up. Outside he says “welcome back” and I say “thanks,” but what I actually mean is, “this is the closest I’ve been to the Matrix, please don’t make me go.” High on nothingness, I exit out to street with the masses where, with a flick of my phone, I’ll relearn the sound of quiet desperation.
Float Tank was the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done and I cannot afford it.
Prior to floating, I had worried I would spend the hour thinking about my to-do list or cataloging all the ways I feel shame — things I normally do when I lie down. But the physical sensation of floating was so unique in its newness that *thinking about things* felt like a blasphemous use of the space. Doing nothing was the only thing to do.
With a flick of my phone, I relearn the sound of quiet desperation.
Would I recommend it? Yesssss. It’s as expensive as a massage but much, much cooler and I’ll be going back the moment you slip me your Dad’s AmEx. How long did the ‘chill’ of a worry-free mindscape last? NOT LONG ENOUGH, because airplane mode or not, humanity still knows one million ways to reach me and I can’t handle that.
See you next time.