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Bedtime Stories

Bedrooms are our private space. Often, what transpires within those four walls is inviolable (or at least it should be). Whether you share your bed with someone, or have it as your own fortress of solitude, the ramifications of its presence are the same. This is where you lay down at the end of your day. This is where you put head-to-pillow and sleep. Sometimes, other things happen, too. This is what interests me most (and, no, this isn't about sex).

Several years ago, I toured the Dana Thomas House in Springfield, IL. Designed by highly regarded architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the home is an astounding work to behold. If you ever have the chance to tour it, then do so. It was while touring the abode -- long past its time as an actual residence for people -- that I had a quiet moment of inner realization. We were shown one of the bedrooms. The tour guide said her piece and moved on. I stood there, looking at the two beds in the old, white-walled room. It connected me to those long-dead people from the past in a way that no other part of the house had done.

You see, beds (and what happens in them) are a fairly unifying factor for most of us. While quietly staring at the beds in the Dana Thomas House, it occurred to me that they had been occupied by folks perhaps not very different than myself. Aside from sleeping and, well, you know, they'd likely done the same things that we all do while in bed. For we are alone with our thoughts within these sleeping vessels. Sometimes we are literally alone, other times we are sharing the space with someone. Regardless, there is no escaping ourselves at bed time.

We lay awake in our beds before sleeping. We turn things over in our mind. If we are fortunate enough to have a companion with us, we typically share thoughts about our day -- some good, some bad. We worry about how to pay the bills. We think about loved ones, present and past. We review the day, and think about the next one. We may look forward to sleep, or to whatever is planned for the following day. It is our time to ponder, to relish, to be nervous, to be happy, and the bed cradles us while we do this.

What struck me about the bedroom in the Dana Thomas House is how, a hundred years ago, people who are now bones decaying in the ground no doubt utilized the room in much the same way that we utilize ours. They laid awake at night, thinking, wondering, worrying, loving, talking, relaxing and, finally, sleeping. This was their routine, as it is our routine, as it no doubt will be the routine of many, all over the world, for some time to come.

We think about so much while laying in our beds. It helps get us through this life. Then, when all's said and done, we'll join the good people from the Dana Thomas House and become bones decaying in the ground. It will be time for those yet unborn to lay awake in their beds, and ponder.


  1. Hadn't really thought about this as one of the many commonalities we all share. Those times when we're alone with our thoughts are said to be much fewer in our new high-speed, high-tech lives. I'm not so sure that's so very true, though.

    I'm also reminded of the concept of "segmented sleep." Not so long ago (a few hundred years), most people slept in a couple segments through the night, but spent a quiet, wakeful period between them. It's thought by some to be a way of regulating stress.


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