Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mundane medicine

Even as a child I would make my bed every day. When all around is chaos, that island of smoothed sheet and plumped pillow can calm me more than almost anything. I think the ultimate thing in making a bed is that it allows at least one task to be completed, even if nothing gets done all day, and that gives my life some small semblance of worth.
I stumbled across this article excerpt on Wide Open Spaces and had to share it, because it's the only way I can describe what making my bed means without sounding insane. Of course, my life is sans the children, husband, and fabulous career, but nonetheless full of small moments of desperation and unsteady waters.

 "Making the bed":

The simplest, most satisfying activity I do all day is making my bed. In seven minutes or less, I accomplish something small but worthwhile. I give myself a new beginning.On a morning of chaos, children hollering, misplaced homework, and a husband looking for clean socks, it's the calm in a storm. I love the physical, methodical act of tugging sheets and plumping pillows. I sense my jumbled thoughts being sorted as I exact the length of the blanket along the horizon of the bed. If I am anxious, stretching my arms wide and lifting the sheets high in the air releases some of the unease into the universe along with the eyelashes and the lint. It's organizing in the most gentle of ways.

Life is hard sometimes - hard for everyone differently, but hard. For me, there are intricate blended-family calisthenics, concerns about overcrowding in my kid's school, money worries, children worries, parent worries, and wrinkles in weird places. It can be overwhelming, but I find making the bed is a good first step to getting a handle on it all. Being a mother and a wife, a writer and an actress, is wonderful, really wonderful, but I don't know that I do it right all the time. I make mistakes, feel in search of out-of-reach answers; but I can assemble something that has been dismantled, straighten what has been undone. When I make the bed, I am caring for something important to me and my husband (and sometimes, in the middle of the night, a child.) A made bed is good to come home to. It says to the world and, more important, to you, "I am not unhinged."

It's never to late to make the bed. If it doesn't get done at 7:45 am because I had to start over with the eggs or I slept a little too long, it will still be there later that afternoon. Sometimes I make the bed 15 minutes before I get in it again.
And, inevitably, while i consider if the sheet is on the correct side or pull out a down feather that has poked through the case, there is a moment when it strikes me how lucky I am to have a bed."

The article, published in Real Simple, was written by writer and actress Isabel Gillies. For those of you who loved this passage as much for the writing as the content, you should do as I am and track down her book Happens Every Day.
And in the mean time, make your bed - it'll make you feel good.

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