03 March 2013

The Road to Hell is Paved With Beds Unmade (Sunday Meditation #27)

Nearly every day, upon arising from sleep, I think of making my bed. Nearly every morning, I make the bed. On the mornings I don't make the bed, I almost always carry with me nagging anxiety and disappointment. Every time I climb the stairs to my room, to enter it or passing by, I gaze through the opening upon the rumpled sheets and disheveled pillows and berate myself for not following through with intention. The bed in its disarray asks me "Really, sir, what was your intention for the day? What else will you leave unfinished?"

The bed does not literally speak, I know. If it did, I would have greater problems to solve than mere rearrangement of sheets. Ones that might involve doctors and analysis, and at this point in life I would rather not stray into that territory. But the bed does say something to me. Made, it gives the satisfaction of knowing that I have accomplished something, however small, in my day. Unmade, it exists as silent reminder that I have been lazy or unfocused or simply inattentive. Each state is a small seed, planting something in my heart of hearts that guides my actions for the remainder of my waking hours.

You may scoff at this notion, and I would not blame you. "It is a bed, man, not a plan for your life's work!" and the logical me would agree with you. There are many days when the logical me can put such daft notions aside, sink its teeth into the flesh of the day and consume it for all its worth. There are days when such consumption is necessary, if anything is to be accomplished.

Consumption is not the end of our actions entire, I must say. Some days reflection is required, an asking of "What are my intentions for the day? What do I hope to do, for whom, and for why?" These are questions that appeal to the emotional me. The answers do not necessarily demand us to struggle under the burden of reason (and make no mistake, reason as a state of existence is sometimes a burden on our animal minds) in order to make it through our day. But these questions must be engaged, I believe, if I am to fulfill the intentions I carry within my heart.

Intentions. We all have them. We all follow through on them with varying degrees of success. We all hope (at least, I hope we all hope) that we have done what we said we would do. The trap inherent in this is that too often we mistake the having of intentions with the fulfilling of intentions. We congratulate ourselves on meaning well, and we rely on the presumed good natures of those we claim to love, or want to love, that even if  things "just didn't work out" when in reality we just didn't bother ourselves to follow through, they know that we meant well. Human nature, I suppose, to take the easy route if we think someone will always cut us slack. Or that life will always cut us some slack. Things undone for too long, in life and love, will come back to haunt or hurt us.

This haunting is perhaps is the kernel of my anxieties, the driver behind my need to make the bed. A tangled blanket, a pillow on the floor, become avatars of the rippling chaos of my subconscious mind. I sometimes don't have the energy to dispel them even when I know it would be good for me. It takes an intention realized in an action to quell the ripples and set my heart on the right path for the day. This is why I so often force myself to make the bed: I calm the chaos and prime my mind to fulfill potential for the day, rather than congratulating myself for having created a 'to do' list which may end as mere desk ornament.

Again, you may laugh and point at the seeming silliness of my need to make the bed. Again, I take no offense. I realize that sometimes (to paraphrase Freud) a bed is just a bed. On the bad days, I berate myself for being attached to this notion of bed making. I can only note that on the days I do make the bed, I get more done. I feel stillness. I feel more open to love. I am not always fortunate to experience more love as a result, but I do know this: being still and open to love goes a long way towards keeping me from paving the road to hell with my own good intentions.


  1. This makes a lot of sense to me. I have my morning rituals, too, and if I don't get them done, the day feels off. How you begin the day changes how the rest of the day goes, and that is important. I don't think it's silly; I think you are creating a way for your day to have structure and consistency, which gives you a framework from which to begin.

  2. It makes SO much sense.. I grew up with a mother that, if the bed wasn't made, there was hell to pay. For a long time, I refused to make it - like some way of thumbing my nose at her. I finally outgrew that. She is, after all, passed on, and cannot judge my bed any more. Now I like to have it made for me, because I feel like I have control over something in my day. There. My bed is made. Take that. :) Happy Sunday.. :)

  3. Now you've got me thinking...

    I always make my bed. Always. I wouldn't dream of leaving it all mussed and crumpled. The making is automatic, requires no thought on my part; it's just a given that the bed is made every morning.

    What does that say about me, I wonder?

  4. My parents were big on making of beds. I am lucky to have straightened out the basic bedding after rising. I usually only make up the bed when expecting company, just in case someone wanders into the room. I have a friend who says, "why bother to make the bed when you are just gonna get back into it each night."

  5. Oh man, I'm much the same way. I'm not sure how or if I relate it to getting more done, but it's important to me to do the simple work of making my bed. It makes me feel good and happy. I know that when I get home at night, I'm going to walk into that room and my beautiful, comfortable, welcoming bed is going to invite me in, and I'm going to feel good and safe and warm, embraced inside it. By myself.

    Plus, I am sure that somewhere in my psyche, my mother's demand for the bed to be made before I do anything else is a learned prerequisite for starting my day. I guess in that regard, I resemble your post more than I initially thought. :-)

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  7. Err...and then you fall for an inveterate non-bed maker. Whoops.

  8. I like a bed that is ordered and made up. That's how we did it growing up. When I was young, I recall getting a glimpse of my uncle's unmade bed. I was shocked! An adult with an untidy bed had no place in my scheme of things. Of course, he was also divorced, which was almost unheard of when I was a little girl. It was all so unseemly.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...