George either has nothing to say, or everything to say. His thick bleach, or bleached (I have yet to figure it out), blond hair always immaculately gelled up and to the left, his eyebrows impeccable, his Brazilian tan, constant. Today, George had a fair amount to say, and most of it in the form of a chiding lecture.
Earlier, I found myself somewhat despondent, unable to lock into my usual laser focus and golden retriever chipperness. Naturally, I decided a pastry would help, and thus headed to the local bakery where George works. He immediately noticed I was out of it and jokingly asked if I had made my bed, sky blue eyes devilishly sparkling over his medical blue mask.
I bit into the gluten packed, sugar filled, mood enhancing delicacy, chantilly cream shooting out the side, and I realized that, in fact, I had not. A die-hard bed maker, I could not believe it, giving George all the fodder in the world to launch into the same speech I had given to him two years ago whilst trying to offer accessible tools to enhance his mental health.
“Anxiety is concern about the future, stress is concern about the present, and monotony acts as a slow-drip towards depression. Sometimes the only thing to keep you sane and on point is to make your bed.”
As I delved into the second pastry, because, why not, George, now fifty-two, paused his taunting to let me know that he has made his bed every day since our initial boudoir banter. In fact, he attributes his newfound optimism, mental clarity, and day to day productivity all to the two minutes he spends every morning on this banal, yet vital, duty. Even now.
The ongoing 2020-ness of it all has many of us lost between blasé and emotional, harrumphed and enraged.
And, quite frankly, of course we are, living in this land of ‘unknown unknowns,’ as Richard Shinder called it. It is no longer that we do not know what is going to happen, but rather that we no longer can comprehend or even possibly imagine what may, may happen. This, intertwined with the tedium and repetition that characterize our new insular daily lives, leaves many of us dangling, much like I wrote about in my first book.
In a brute juxtaposition to everything happening out there, making the bed is the thing you can control in here. Perhaps one of the few tangible acts that exists in the exact same way, every day, without talking back, zooming out, evolving, or mutating, making the bed is an anchor in the sea of uncertainty and seemingly never-ending explosive drudgery. It is always just a mattress, some sheets, and fluffy pillows waiting to be neatly assembled; a true constant in the omnipresent realm of unsteady variables.
There is something reassuring about coming back to a made bed at the end of the day, a bit of order in a chaotic, ever changing while barely morphing, routine. A mainstay that cannot let you down, a small semblance towards a returned normalcy. It serves as a physical reminder that there is always a beginning and an end, no matter how it appears.
After all, if you are reading this, it probably means you, like me and George, are one of the lucky ones who have a bed to sleep and wake up in every day. If for no other reason, we should take pride in making the bed, and doing it well, even if no one is watching.