In the 1991 comedy, What about Bob?, a psych patient, played by Bill Murray, follows his psychiatrist, Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), on vacation. In one scene, Dr. Marvin enters the bedroom where Bob is sleeping and attempts to wake him. Everyone in the house is jarred from sleep by Dr. Marvin’s yelling, everyone, that is, except Bob who continues to sleep blissfully. No amount of aggression wakes Bob from his peaceful slumber. Finally, Dr. Marvin gives up in frustration. Then, in perfect comedic timing, the subtle, nearly imperceptible ringing of an alarm clock is able to accomplish what all of Dr. Marvin’s yelling and shaking could not. Bob rises bright eyed from his sleep, completely oblivious to the chaos that had been going on around him.

I think of this scene whenever I hear people who no longer buy into the political, social, or religious narrative of the zeitgeist, people who consider themselves “woke,” demanding everyone else to “wake the fuck up!”  If this is you, I’ll let you in on a few secrets:

  1. No matter how aggressively you shake people, you can’t “wake” them if it’s not their time or place.
  2. When they do wake, there’s no guarantee they will wake up to your agenda, which is really what it’s all about, isn’t it? We don’t want people to simply wake up, we want them to wake up and come on board to our perspectives and ways of doing things. But the only reason any of us sees the world the way we do is because our experiences and, more importantly, how we interpret them, have led us to these perspectives. It is unrealistic to think that someone who does not interpret a shared experience the same way you interpret it will fall into alignment with your agenda.
  3. Even though you consider yourself wide awake, you’re still sound asleep to somebody else’s agenda, which is to say: while you’re demanding everyone else to wake up, somebody somewhere is pleading for you to wake up.
  4. In the grand scheme of things, just as Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and dead, we are both asleep and awake, simultaneously. Not only are we asleep to other people’s agendas, we’re also still asleep to our own next, big idea… the one that we haven’t even dreamt up yet.

This is the nature of evolving, We can’t make people think what we think, see what we see, or believe what we believe. It’s our own experiences and interpretations of those experiences that shape our beliefs and, therefore, our perspectives. So, relax, brothers & sisters! The only “wake the fuck up” or “stay woke” or “evolution toward consciousness” that we can manage is our own, and thank the gods of root beer & penny candy for that!

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” ~ Ghandi