Bridges and Beds

Before this past weekend, it had been a while since I’d built anything for both my wife and I more permanent than a dinner.

I’m not sure I was due for a building project, but one – in the form of a bed – presented itself rather insistently.  Lots of heavy, long boxes had showed up on our front porch a couple days earlier than expected, and after ten days of climbing over them to open and close our bedroom windows, it was time.

And so it was that on Saturday, still under the influence of persnickety lower back spasms and a sinus infection that made things… challenging, Danielle and I set to work assembling our new snooze-nest.

A few years back, we’d replaced our outdated mattress with one of those memory foam numbers that arrive smooshed into a seventy-pound roll that – voila – grows to a dozen times its packed size when unwrapped.

For a couple of decades, each night found us atop box springs and a steel frame that seemed engineered to squeal like a pack of loud, hungry, lost kittens any time either of us thought of breathing.  So yeah, it was time for an upgrade.

In fact, if I’m being honest, we’d flown past the “use by” date on the old spring and frame combo ages ago, and simply got caught in an eddy of patterned waiting.  Not holding off for any specific reason.

We let ourselves fall into an old pattern, a combo of delay and avoidance that harkens back to a time we perseverated over almost any decision that led to spending more than we would on a week’s worth of groceries.

I’m not going to oversimplify our dynamic by filing it under “scarcity” versus “abundance” thinking.  Yeah, that’s a part of the story, but ours is a many-layered tale.  If we go down the reductionist road, we’d be stripping ourselves of the brilliant complexity that makes us human.  As a partnered pair, that complexity jumps exponentially in the context of a long-term relationship.

Why would we do less than honor all our individual and collective dimensions?

On one hand, upgrading the bed wasn’t a life-or-death issue.

On the other hand, it’s presented us an opportunity to look at a collection of old patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviors that no longer serve.

We’re blessed to be in a very different financial situation than we were when we had a house full of hand-me-down furniture and lived the art student milk- and melon-crate lifestyle.  (I still have a warm place in my heart for those melon crates.)

The old ways, replete with their old religions, are sticky.  They die slow and hard…

Yet those ways served us remarkably well for years.  They weren’t graceful, nor did they have much wisdom to them.  Still, they were part of the path – sticks, rocks, and all – of our unfolding and growth.

I have a deep respect and love for the people my wife and I were ten, twenty, thirty years ago.  It’s safe to say I love them more now than they were able to love themselves in their time.

Depending on the decade, they were either too busy, lost in striving and proving, spinning in trying to “figure it out,” wearing themselves thin chasing a moment’s rest, or a combination of these and other old “comfortable” habits.

They still live in us, of course.  When we’re tired or otherwise not at our conscious, self-aware best, they manage to find the driver’s seat and slip behind the wheel.

Our job is to meet them and gently remind them that it’s no longer their job to drive or, for that matter, even navigate.  Then we get to take responsibility for slipping out of the captain’s chair – and slip back in there.

There’s a reason this adult consciousness stuff takes patience, attention, and “the three p’s” of practice, practice, practice.

You know, I honestly think this stuff – the conscious adult stuff – makes a difference in the world.  Even when, on the surface, it’s simply about getting a good night’s sleep.

And who knew a new bed would build bridges to parts of ourselves that needed some extra love and attention?