Friday, November 8, 2013

Happiness is a Flat Pillow

I have a character flaw.

“Just one?” you ask.

Before I reveal the shocking secret about what it is, here’s a little background. While on vacation once, I discovered I slept much more soundly than at home. It wasn’t because of the quiet, well-insulated room. It wasn’t that we’d been walking around Disneyland all day and I was worn out. It wasn’t that we were on a relaxing vacation that we’d paid for months earlier. It wasn’t because we’d chosen a time of year when the lines at Disneyland were actually bearable.

No, I slept well because the pillow was comfortable.

So when we returned home after the vacation, I needed to get a new pillow. I went to Mervyn’s department store and looked at the expensive goose down pillows. They were fifty dollars, so I skipped those and bought a pair of synthetic down pillows for thirty dollars each—one for me, one for my wife.

I was so excited to sleep on my new pillow that I went to bed extra early. But unfortunately, the new pillow was only slightly better than the worn-out pillow I already had. It was way too hard. It felt like I was sleeping on a large yam. Raw, not cooked. I tossed around all night. My wife couldn’t tell the difference between the new and the old either and questioned why I even disliked the old. The next day I took the two pillows back to Mervyn’s.

It’s nice that many stores will let you return almost anything and Mervyn’s graciously took the pillows back. So I bought the fifty dollar real down pillows and returned home with a happy heart.

I went to bed even earlier this time. Unfortunately, I felt like Goldilocks—this one was way too soft. My head sunk all the way to the bed. It was like sleeping on an empty pillowcase with two large mounds on either side of me. I nearly suffocated. My wife switched to the old pillow partway through the night. Once again, I returned the two pillows to Mervyn’s. I think I might be the reason Mervyn’s went out of business.

I gave up on Mervyn’s and went to Costco’s website where I ordered two premium Kirkland Signature genuine down-filled pillows. They cost seventy dollars each and arrived a few days later. These were so light and fluffy that the UPS driver owed me money for delivering them to me.

I think I went to bed around six in the evening this time. The pillow wasn’t yammy. It wasn’t flat. Unfortunately, neither was it much better than the original old pillow I was trying to replace. My wife promptly pointed this out the next morning.

Here’s where my personality flaw came into focus. And it has nothing to do with being picky about pillows.

Rather, I realized I’d just spent nearly one hundred and fifty dollars to sleep comfortably while there must be a billion people around the world that don’t even have beds. How many people can’t sleep because their neighborhood is getting bombed? How many children have nightmares all night from abuse, fear, abandonment, hunger, or disease? And I was worried about a comfy pillow. What was I thinking?

My flaw is that I have an overdeveloped sense of worry for all the bad things in the world that I can’t do anything about, and that aren’t my fault to begin with. I mean, can I really help it that a young girl in Nepal got sold into trafficking? Maybe not, but it still bothers me.

So I returned the pillows to Costco and donated the money to an acquaintance in Indonesia who’d lost her job and had failing health. Then I went to Kmart and bought a pair of seven dollar pillows.

And I slept better that night than I had in a very long time.