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Holding It All Together-Are You Woke Or Awake?

By Amy McCollom
I have heard and used the phrase “being woke” for several years now; it’s nothing new to me (because I’m just cool like that.)  But it has become a favorite slang word now in memes and social media posts. What does “being woke” mean?  

From what I can gather from searching the Web, “woke” was first used as a slang term in a rap song entitled “Master Teacher” by Erykah Badu. It basically meant that she was fully aware of what was going on, no one was going to be pulling the wool over her eyes, she knew what she had to do, and she knew what she believed. To be totally self-aware and in control of your thoughts, choices, and surroundings.  That is a really great thing!

As time went on, racial injustice and strife followed by outrage brought new meaning to the slang word woke. Not only did it mean self-aware, it became a living movement for people to use as their mantra and chant against racism and injustice.

Now the term woke seems to be more about politics than about an individual’s self-awareness. Being “woke” now comes with a label and presumed group affiliation.  Sad.  It was a cool word.  Now it has become a political catch-all buzzword used to attack or be attacked.

Wake up.  Awake is so much more than not sleeping.  Rise up.  Pay attention.  Come to your senses.  Open your eyes.  My dad used to tell us, “Get up, people die in bed.”  My mom was in the Army when she was younger, so you got up early at my house and washed your face with cold water to wake up.  Believe me, it woke you up!  

Awake is also the way you live.  I was raised to walk with my head up, keep an eye on my surroundings, always look for a second exit any time I entered a building, be aware of who was behind me, choose a seat where I could see the door, and always have a plan B.  

Being awake also means not falling into a rut.  It means keeping your eyes, and your hopes, above the horizon.  Don’t spend your life pouting and looking down at your feet.  Rise up!  Change is good, and change is inevitable.  Our goal here isn’t to just be happy; it’s to be happy enough to make others happy.  Be a blessing; it is what we are all called to do.  

There was a scene in one of the Jason Bourne movies where Matt Damon is describing to his female co-star all of the things he notices around him, and he doesn’t understand how or why he knows these things;

“I come in here, and the first thing I’m doing is I’m catching the sightlines and looking for an exit…..I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?”

I know, we are all not the Jason Bourne type, and life is not a movie. But, we can all be a little more awake, aware, and woke if we try.  We really need to be.  Crap happens all the time.  Survivors are those who don’t panic and who have a plan.  

This world we live in is full of scammers, violators, bad guys, accidents, spiders, holes in the floor (intended and not intended) and we need to be extra aware of our surroundings.  I am preaching to myself and my family here too. I fell down a heat duct in my house a couple weeks ago because I wasn’t looking down and didn’t expect the grate to be missing.  My sweet husband had taken it off to clean the duct, but the vacuum had clogged so he went to get a tool to fix the vacuum.  Thinking I was asleep in my room, he didn’t bother letting me know.  Thinking he was done vacuuming, I slipped quickly through the narrow door into the hall to go to the bathroom, stepping feet first right into the 3 by 3 foot floor duct.  Good thing I didn’t break my leg, just bruised my thigh and pride.  Always look before you leap.  Lesson learned.

So to end this, I have been patiently waiting for one of my family members to notice that I replaced a picture that we had hanging in the dining room with a two-foot long shiny plastic fake mounted fish that I found at a thrift store.  This new fish has been hanging on the wall, clearly visible from our front door, for over a week.  I know that my husband (and probably most husbands) couldn’t tell me what I even had on at the end of the day, but I thought at least some of the kids would notice the fish.  We do not have any other fish in the house.  It’s not like it fits our decor.  I guess I will need to work on waking up my family.  Time to start up the cold water face washing each morning, I suppose.  Stay awake and aware, my friends.

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