I make my bed every day. On the rare occasion when I don’t for some reason or another, a part of the day feels a little wonky. I imagine that most of us do the same thing. As adults, the act of making my bed is more important than what it actually looks like. A made bed is a great start to the day, offering a sense of accomplishment before you even leave the house for work or school or whatever takes up your day. A made bed creates a small moment of external order in life. It also offers a welcomed space to return to at the end of the day.
I have been interested lately in the 12 Laws of Karma, something I have recently written about and continue to find interesting mostly because these laws exist in just about every cultural tradition in some form or another. It’s a basic rule for living “awake”.
Rule 2: The Law of Creation. You can understand this law by seeing that things outside yourself can tell you what’s going on inside. If you have not made your bed in a long time, it’s a sure sign something is going on inside. If you can’t find the floor of your office because it is covered with paper and stuff, surely something is amiss inside. If you don’t like your life the way it is now, surely there are external signs of it. The Law of Creation says that it is up to you to look inside and see what might be causing you to be unhappy. The Law of Creation invites you to actively move in a new direction. Creating happiness involves your own capacity to have your inner life match your outer life.
Our external life mirrors interior life on lots of levels. If I am grumpy to others, I’m probably out of sorts inside myself and might be spending a great deal of energy just to put on a happy face. You don’t need to hold a Ph.D. or be a holy shaman to know that. Jesus understood that when he said, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets”. (Matthew 7:12)
According to the Karmic Law of Creation, we need to be active participants in our lives if we want to get what we desire. We cannot simply wait for things to happen to us, or worse, blame others for all our troubles. We should aim to see how much our inner life mirrors how we act in our outer life.
So what does an unmade bed tell you? That a happy and creative life requires active participation, and starting with small things. Fullness of meaning, happiness, satisfaction with where we are in the world, does not come by accident. Rather, God expects us to engage, to jump in, to take steps that bring our external world into sync with our internal realities. It is not something we do alone or without context.
For Christians, God’s grace plays an enormous role. We can, by God’s grace, see that our inner life mirrors our outer one. When I reach out to others with kindness, I am creating a more peaceful world. But that reaching out in kindness begins with a kindness inside myself. Sometimes making the bed is the beginning of a peaceful day, in which I indeed do for others what I myself would want for myself.