Just the other day I got a brand new pillow. A pillow may not be a big deal to you, but I’m incredibly picky about my pillow. It has to be a down pillow and, when I travel, I bring it with me. If my pillow is not right, either too flat or too full or too hard, I cannot sleep. I can’t count on the hotel in which I’m staying to have down pillows so, especially if it’s a long stay or working trip, I scrunch up my pillow into my suitcase and bring it along.
I brought the new, full, white pillow home in its plastic bag. It was full and fluffy. I pulled the old pillow from its case. I knew it had begun to yellow but, in comparison to the fresh, new, white one, it was nothing more than a measly, crumpled, dingy shadow of its former self.
I switched the pillows, putting the new one into the pillow case on my bed—which it filled mightily—and stuffed the old one into the now unused plastic bag. My intention was to take it down to the trash can; which I did. But first I found myself pausing.
This pillow had spent possibly a decade with me.
It had been to Washington DC, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Iowa, Hawaii and cities all over California. It had cradled my head through homes and apartments, staying with friends, several girlfriends and even a night or two in my car.
Throughout my last decade of ups and downs, happiness and heartbreak, that pillow had been with me each and every night. Whether I was rich or poor, I could always count on that pillow.
Upon this pillow I had dreamt sweet, soaring dreams. I also had countless nightmares. A few times I dreamt of Heaven and the dreams were so vivid that I would almost wager you that I was actually there. Then again, I once also dreamt that I was catching chickens on my fly line instead of trout and was, with horror, trying to dislodge the hooks from their throats. And another time I dreamt that Oprah Winfrey was demanding that I slaughter my sister’s pet bunny. So, my visions of Heaven could well have been as self-fashioned as these debacles of nocturnal imaginings.
After a few moments of reminiscing, I then, without ceremony, walked downstairs and tossed my timeworn companion into the trash. After all these years of bearing witness to my nocturnal dreams, my illnesses, my lonely and my romantic nights, it is gone forever into some landfill. Destiny fulfilled. Job well done.
Now I have a new, fluffy, white down pillow upon which I’ll dream my next adventures.
I also realized that, some day, it’ll be the same for me. The time will come when I reach the end of my days of sadness, of joy, of trepidation or bravery. My days of work and rest and play; my days of travel and adventure; of friendship or solitude; of exuberance or reflection all will have passed. One day my body will be a measly, crumpled, dingy shadow of my former self; and will be left in some landfill.
And I know it will be replaced with a fluffy, new, brilliant version. And it’ll accompany on my next adventures.