Friday, November 06, 2009

Make Your Bed, Be Happy

Your happiness may depend less on what you make in bed, than simply making it.

More to the point: make your bed and be happy.

Yes, you read that correctly. Make your bed and stop searching so desperately for the secrets of life and you might find them more readily.

In the highway scribe's novel, "The Sidewalk Smokers Club," the group's no account, lung-seared leader, Randall, was, while busy saving America from itself, developing a system of thought he called "bum philosophy."

It consisted, Randall said, of "big philosophy made bite-sized for bums: the grand sentiments made pithy and repeated often."

So, make your bed, bums.

Do it first thing, not after breakfast, but right off the bat. highwayscribery does. As soon as he pops up, the scribe strips the mattress down and begins a delicate smoothing of the fitted sheet.

Taking his time, the scribe avails himself of this first opportunity to get something right. He erects a modest challenge and then meets it. highwayscribery accepts that each day, for big man and small alike, is a series of tasks.

And, being of the small variety, he gets to it, before it gets to him.

The smoothing complete, a mild satisfaction blesses the bent morning body at having done something well. It serves as encouragement to take the next step, which is done accordingly, the top sheet shucked from the bottom of the bed and floated toward the head.

Sometimes, as you know, it takes a few flings to get it right and in this exercise there is a harbinger of what kind of day may be in store, and a first shot at practicing patience and persistence.

Again, however resistant the process, it is easy compared to what awaits. And there is routine in it, which, unless you're restless for international travel and sex with people much younger than you, is soothing to the soul.

Our cat Jack, a creature of habit, loves it. Soon after the process has begun he enters, without fail, a hardy greeting at the ready. Your routine settles those around you, too.

There's no need to get into a step-by-step; only worth noting that the bedspread, the alignment of pillows and their ultimate fluffing, all beg the same tender treatment. They are mild attempts at aligning your senses of focus and coordination. And this discipline, the embrace of duty, will calm you and complete you before your teeth are even brushed.

Your best effort applied, you step back and make a date for 13 or 14 hours later. And you look forward to it because the thing looks great and, well, it's your bed.

What comes next is more daunting certainly, but you've got the first paces of a rhythm down. You've greased your wheels.

highwayscribery is at times afflicted with a low-grade depression. He has not had it diagnosed, because he doesn't need anyone to tell him he feels down. He eschews pills, choosing to remedy things in a plodding, short-term, one-foot-in front of the other fashion.

He lives with and adjusts to it.

And this is what they tell people who have been diagnosed with the real deal and plied with chemicals to keep them in balance. They tell them to list things, or stack them, or prioritize them and attend to one after the other.

It helps a person deal with that sense of being overwhelmed, which is especially acute in the morning, because all your tasks are yet to be done.

Everything stares you right in the face so that brushing your teeth is a hindrance. But once you've made your bed, brushing's nearly a next good step, except for the caffeine crowd, which prefers their medicine first and doesn't see the point in brushing until the fix is in.

Whichever. That's up to each reader. We're just saying make the bed, because once breakfast is done and the e-mails you've checked are stuck in your throat, it's a great, great thing, not to have to pass by your room and confront an unwieldy mess of knotted sheets, blankets and comforter demanding you to retreat and MAKE YOUR BED.

That's moving backward. It invites frustration. And you don't need frustration first thing in the morning and you won't have it, because you've made your bed. It's done, looks good, and is winking as a reminder of that date later in the day.

Carry on.

Moving slowly through his own maturity and development the highway scribe has come to place a great deal of importance on preparation and organization. Mostly because they do away with last-minute stresses and limit mistakes, which are harder to undo once you're out of time, and harder to do as you get older, if only because you have less time (literally and figuratively).

When you pass by your room on the way back from dumping the garbage, and prior to putting on your work clothes, that made bed will give you a sense of having things under control and at your fingertips. Unmade, it will make you want to crawl back in, and not because it looks cozy.

If and when you stay at a hotel on vacation, the respite will doubly earned. And when you leave your bedmate behind, you'll be doubly missed.

As a married man, there are positive externalities to the bed-making worthy of reporting and available to any coupled soul heeding this bum-philosophical tenet.

Mrs. Scribe has moved from the made-bed onto new demands, as wives are wont to do, but hardly a married woman exists whose eyes don't mist over at the thought of having 365 small tasks a year removed from their list of jobs.

And in a fight with a wife, it never ceases to come in handy. Mrs. Scribe, forced to address the issue in rare verbal jousts, always starts behind the eight-ball with, "yes, you make the bed every day, but..."

But what? Throw the trips to the garbage bay and something else onto the list and what you've got is a person kvetching more about their own frustrations than about your housekeeping shortcomings.

And that's big.

So take heed gents. Ladies, the advantages here are not as ample (only you know), but still invaluable. At the very least, when you go to bed... will be made.

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