Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thoughts on a made bed

I woke up this morning and made my bed.

I am told that this is a rare thing: a man, and a man of my age and generation, who makes his bed most mornings. I will confess, it is not something I always did, but years ago, while battling through my first bad bout of depression, one of the things my counselor told me was to develop little disciplines and hold fast to them. That they would give me a collection of small victories to look back on each day, and mark progress. They would, she told me, make a difference.

And it was not just the doing of something as prosaic as making my bed that was important. She urged me to savor the experience. If you have ever battled depression, you know how hard that is. In fact, savoring is harder than doing, and doing is damned hard. Because in depression, just getting started each day seems to be an insurmountable task.

That's likely hard to imagine if you have not lived it. I know that I never understood it until I experienced it. For most of my fifty some years, I woke up in a flash, full of energy and ready to launch into my day. Mornings were a joy, full of promise, light, and energy. Since depression hit, mornings take work. At times, if I am in a dark, dark place, they take a lot of work. At other times, when things are better, only a jog of work. But I don't have the same kinds of mornings, even in the best of days, that I once had.

So I get up. I make my bed. As you can see in the picture, it is not Better Homes and Gardens perfect, but I make it. And I work at savoring it. I feel the soft sheets.. I take in the colors. At times I remember where certain things came from - what circumstances led to my buying this particular bed, how I inherited the old radio that serves as my bedside table, the pleasure in restoring the mirror over the bed and how I love it's imperfections.

Doing this sets the pattern for my day. It turns a depressed mind towards more positive thoughts, making each step ahead of it just a little easier. Haing finished one task, often before I even get dressed, it is easier to do the next, and the next.

No one would know this, of course, if they came to visit. They would see a house in fairly good order, and a fifty six year old man who makes his bed. That's all.

Because in general, we don't see the meaning behind what we do. And yet, the meaning is there. In nearly every decision we make, there is a story, something that speaks to the deeper person. What most of us do (and I am as guilty as the next), is assign our meanings, our experiences, to what we see. And that becomes our truth.

Sometimes that may be fine to do. But it is just as possible that we have it all wrong, that we are missing something. What we missed might be unimportant. Or it might be very important. But the odds are, if we don't know what's behind what we see, we're missing something. While much of life is simple People are not

So now, should you visit my small house house across from the quarry, and see my bed made, you will know I didn't make it for you.(sorry)  I made it for me. A small step towards sanity. You will know that for the day you visited at least, I started my day with a victory against inertia, from the very start. And when we share a cup of coffee, we can celebrate the victory together.


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