My Year of Rest and Relaxation (Ottessa Moshfegh, 2018) a young upper-class New Yorker decides, with the help of a strong cocktail of pills, to sleep for an entire year. From her viewpoint, rest is a weapon for survival: "Sleep felt productive. Something was getting sorted out. I knew in my heart (...) that when I'd slept enough, I'd be okay. I'd be renewed, reborn. I would be a whole new person". From her bed-world, she watches classic films, buys luxurious lingerie, and every trace of a past life is erased by force of rest.
The first definition that pops-up when I google "bed" is:
Piece of furniture made for people to rest on.
Beds are usually associated with rest but they can play a much bigger role.
At the age of seven, Bruno Gelber fell ill with polio, which affected his leg. He was unable to stand-up, but he found a way to continue practicing: he would tuck his bed inside the piano, from where he could stretch his hands and play.
Frida Kahlo suffered a catastrophic accident when she was eighteen years old. This forced her to stay in bed for long periods of time throughout her life. She painted self-portraits while lying in bed, using a mirror and an easel specially designed for horizontal position.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent two weeks lying in a bed at a Hilton Hotel, where they invited photographers and spectators to visit them. It was a pacific protest held against the Vietnam war.
To spend long stretches of time in bed is a habit usually frowned upon, hastily associated with depression or laziness.
In one of my stories I wrote:
The image of my mom lying in bed during the day is the one I see more often. Since she separated from dad, she spends her days in bed reading, talking on the phone or watching tv with the cat on her lap. When I leave for school, she is in bed and when I come back, she is still there.
In another story I wrote:
Her bed is her headquarters. When a bad day comes along, she settles there and focuses on some small task.
A bed can be a refuge from the world's whirlwind.
From my bed I completed all the academic requirements of graduate school, I wrote most of my two books, worked many full days, and from bed I am writing this right now. Sometimes I feel that I have a better grasp of things from a horizontal position.
Needless to say, the life span of horizontal thnking, sooner or later, reaches exhaustion. There's a certain threshold that once crossed, transforms the bed into an abyss, able to engulf us deep into its soft fibers. For instance, eating in bed can be such a treat, a well-deserved act of self-love, but only till bread crumbs fall and graze our skin, or mayonnaise stain on the sheets renders the hedonist experience into a pigpen. It takes willpower not to succumb into the charms of a bed, to break the spell and dare escape its lovely comfort; to listen to the whispers that tell us it's time to go out and see the world.
After an entire year of rest and relaxion has gone by, the young upper-class New Yorker decides repose has been enough. Sleep has worked its charms. She feels better. She is ready to resume her life. She leaves her bed to see the world. She buys a tv set from which she watches the live coverage of 9/11 and soon follows with her gaze a woman as she falls into the void: "There she is, a human being, diving into the unknown, and she is wide awake".
Outside the sun is still shinning. I stretch my limbs, I breathe. I leave my bed, though just for a little while. Only so I can come back later.