Awakening Ain't Woke

One of my friends is going through a tough time. There’s nothing horribly wrong with her, but something’s wrong. My gut instinct is that her real self is trying to push free. I say it’s instinct, but when someone agrees that it feels like the universe is bitch slapping them around, I know what that means. 

Mine started in 2009. It continues to this day (not the bitchslapping, fortunately). The thing about awakening is that one is never fully “woke”. It’s a journey, a process, and there is no destination in this lifetime…at least not that I’m aware of – yet?  

Woke is described on Wikipedia as an English adjective meaning "alert to racial prejudice and discrimination" that originated in African-American Vernacular English (AAVE). Social media has warped that meaning a bit, actually, has appropriated it to mean anytime one has a conspiracy theory or doesn’t trust a power structure, none of which are to be trusted of course. Put bluntly, a word that used to really mean something has been reduced to a meme.  

What I want to describe is awakening. Some (most) call it aspiritual awakening. In actuality it is awakening to yourself. Your real self. The one that has been conditioned to move through life without thinking too hard about why you’re doing the things you do. 

Here’s the kicker: there’s no right way to do it. Generally, something happens that makes you question why – and your why is different from my why or your partner’s or your guru’s. Your journey, your search for your true self, will be unique as well.  

But aren’t we seeking something bigger than ourselves? Some grand plan, a transcendence, hopefully with a rulebook to follow? What is bigger than you, I answer? You are the star of your show, much to the chagrin of people who believe they deserve to be stars of their own show and yours. The problem is, it’s a lot of responsibility. Being fully in charge of your actions, reactions, choices – it’s a significant challenge when we’re brought up to do what we’re told without question. Especially for those of us who are told what to do and not ask questions. 

Anytime something profound is turned into something trivial, it deserves to be questioned. As with the word “woke”, words like “spiritual” or “consciousness” have been denigrated and appropriated throughout the centuries. Pagan fertility Gods were turned into the Easter bunny. To be spiritual
now, certainly you have to charge your crystals and burn your sage, right? Do you even meditate, bro?

People have put belief and energy into those rituals for far longer than the most of our modern religions have existed. That is a power of its own. If you choose to believe in that power, awesome! If it helps you hear your inner voice, who you are at the spirit level, then get to howling at that full moon. Rituals exist for a reason. Find the ones that work for you, just as you can find the philosophies that work for you. 

Look, we hardly understand the human body, much less why we exist in the first place. I appreciate some have taken others' words and meaning as their own (religion, gurus, social media influencers). They are not seekers, at least, not anymore.  

If you are a seeker, then I wish you a happy voyage on this lifelong journey. There are many of us out there, in all walks of life, because none of it is wrong and none of it is right. Some of what people do may be considered immoral in current times, but if it’s your choice, fully, then it’s your choice. Reality will dole out its consequences if you fall too far out of line from the norm. And yes, more than one person has left their career or community because they found it didn’t align with what they learned when they turned inward. 

Now, if you find yourself in this place of questioning and have no idea where to go from here, there are plenty of people who can guide you along certain points on your path. It’s important to remember that you’re walking your path, not theirs. You may walk together for a short time, or a long time, but they are there to provide light for you to see, not to lead you down a path meant solely for you. 

There are all sorts of retreats, coaches, shamans, gurus, religions, books, pilgrimages to choose from. The only wisdom I can offer is that you’ll feel it when it’s for you. My best suggestions are to start journaling and find some quiet time in nature as often as possible. Start asking questions of yourself. Unpack all those decades of experience, programming, trauma, love, hate, strongly held convictions. Accept them because they are yours. 

Most of all, explore what it means to be a human being, not a human doing.