Everyday, my mother wakes up and makes her bed.
Everyday, I wake up and write an essay. Or tell a story.
It's ambitious. For both of us.
My dedication pales to my mother's sixty-year habit, but nonetheless, writing an essay everyday for three years is nothing to poo-poo.
Mom explains that when she walks back into her bedroom and the bed is made, it doesn't matter what kind of day she's having, or what kind of day she's had, there is order in her life. It's a routine as reliable and as important as her beating heart.
When I organize my thoughts into writing, it brings order to my mind. It clarifies my thinking, my experiences, my entire life.
Mom's bed always looks magazine worthy. Corners dressed. Pillows stacked in pleasing position. The pleasure in her routine, the dependable task motivates her to quilt a new bedspread, to check TJ Maxx for new pillows.
My essays are messy, always needing another edit; they are the half-dressed children in shopping carts in need of a nose wipe. I even cringe when I look back and see my runny-nosed essays sent into the cold world without hats. My essays have dangling sheets, hastily scattered pillows, and the bedspread has needed a trip to the dry cleaners for months.
Mom even makes her bed when we're staying at a hotel.
I write and post an essay-a-day when I travel, even if I must sit in a cold lobby with beer-clinking Scandinavians, or card-playing teenagers from America.
I once found an article about the importance of not making one's bed. It reported: Bed bugs thrive in warm, dark, well-made beds. It's best to let the unmade bed air out and if possible soak up the sun. At last, I now had a legitimate excuse for not making my bed, but how would Mom react? I presented the evidence. In spite of the logical argument, the next morning she made her hotel bed before the sun came up.
Fully developed essays need crock-pot time. They shouldn't be microwaved or put under the broiler. Essays are like bread making. They need kneading, resting, and rising. The right temperature.
Yet, even as I contemplate sincerely writing: I'm going to resist writing an essay-a-day, I feel uneasy.
Habits are strange creatures.
I need to write the equivalent article to not-bed- making on the importance of not writing an essay-a-day--, but how hard would it be to follow my own advice?