Always Waking, Never Woke

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What does it mean to be “woke?”

Does it mean “come to” in the midst of modern life? To see suddenly intersections of structural inequity? Perceive the underpinnings of oppression?

Is it an academic state? A mantle conferred upon successful surfing of fourth-wave feminism? Does it give one bragging rights? Bragging righteousness?

Is to be “Woke AF” an extreme state of enlightenment? An involuntary condition? Is it painful? Poignant?

Whatever it means, “woke” seems to describe an irrevocable state. Past tense. An existential shift accomplished.

I am not woke.

I am trying to stay awake.

We exist in a world of 10,000 distractions. It’s so easy to be swept off to dreamland, to reverie, to sleep. Wormholes and rabbit holes and black holes beckon to lead us away from life. We operate in a world of symbols. It’s so easy to get stuck in the metaphors.

We inhabit online spaces as avatars and social constructs. Profiles and accounts. We are target demographics and traffic statistics. We are red and blue states, soundbytes and memes.

Somnambulism is our default mode as we move from screen to screen, prompt to prompt, pleasantry to pleasantry.

To be “woke,” perhaps, means to take on the implications of such a world.

To be awake, perhaps, is not to shut down in the face of them.

My intention is to keep waking up. Moment after moment. To come back and come back. To be with this moment with you in it. To really, really be here and to really, really see you. As a human being. As a child of the universe. As a creature doing your best to find a little happiness and steer clear of suffering.

My aspiration is to have the clarity and consciousness that “woke” folk have. But for me to be “woke” would be dangerous. I’d start to get uppity about my “woke-ness.” I can feel the satiny slickness of self-righteousness just thinking about it. I’d wield “woke” like a weapon to grab ground, claim superiority.

Then BOOM. I’m “woke” but not awake.

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