There’s more than one way to wake up.
I’ve been a father for almost ten years. I’ve had lot’s of practice waking people up and being woken up myself. I have four kids. Each one wakes up in a unique way. Jump out of bed, stretch for ten minutes, pull covers over head and go back to sleep, groan.
Motivation is a factor, too. Getting out of bed at 4:30 AM for a road trip to our favorite water park looks a bit different from getting out of bed on your average icy cold Monday morning in January.
There’s also a strange space that sometime exists in which we feel awake when we’re actually asleep. Some dreams are so lucid they’re deceptive until reality snaps in.
Like a dream about not being prepared for a test or a presentation. Sitting in the front row of a class or a meeting. A teacher or a boss standing directly in front of you offering an enthusiastic thumbs up. You look down for a last peek at your notes or a double check on your number two pencil but nothing’s there.
Sweat forms on your brow, your heart begins to race, it couldn’t feel more real.
As your name is being announced or the test is being placed on the table in front of you a rhino in a floral patterned cardigan and riding chaps nonchalantly sauntered across the back of the room, puffing bubbles from a classic Sherlock Holmes style pipe.
He catches your eye with a wink and a nod. Consternation sets in for just a moment, then relief at the understanding of the impossibility of the situation before you shift into reality, thankful it was a dream.
There’s lots of ways to wake up.
There’s lots of ways to be awake, too. Awake doesn’t necessary mean aware, and even when it does, there are levels of awareness.
The most we can hope for in any given situation is that our lived experiences, our sensibilities, and our core values match up to help us navigate each moment with maximum benefit to ourselves and those we serve.
I engage in this reflection on the foundation of my diversity and inclusion journey, as an educator, a parent, and a human being.
I think about and explore wakefulness in the light of my understanding that there’s so much more for me to know about myself in order to effectively lead in culturally competent ways.
One of my biggest struggles in this realm is that each person I serve and each one I serve with is on a bit of a different journey.
I struggle to understand where along the wakefulness continuum my partners are. Ironically, this is critical information for me to know if my partnerships and my leadership are to be impactful. Covey continues to remind me that I must first seek to understand people, their perspectives and their needs, before I’m able to support, encourage, and connect.
Every so often I learn something that rattles my foundation. Most often that something is about myself. Something about my level of wakefulness. The more I learn the more I figure I’m less awake than I’d like to be, and less awake than I would have previously described myself as.
Sometimes I wish the right person would dump a bucket of cold water on my head, but then I remember that when I wake up with a start I’m cranky and clouded, not calm and clear.
I know that when I wake up gently, with a caring, patient hand on my shoulder and a soft voice of encouragement in my ear I’m apt to receive the day in increasingly rational ways, more closely connected to who I am, who I am becoming, and who I intend to be at my very best.
I want those around me to be awake. I want those I serve to live in heightened states of wakefulness while embracing their dreams as components of learning and growth.
I’m working to enhance my ability to wake, and to help other wake in gentle, compassionate, calm, and patient way.
I’m finding it requires trust.
Waking slowly brings the looming threat of missing out. Ironically, as I engage in slow, steady wakefulness to the best of my ability, it seems that just the opposite might just be true.
We live in a system in which many people are marginalized. As parents and educators we must constantly and stringently reflect on our roles in this system. A difficult and confronting task to be sure.
We must wake up to the extend that we’re not already awake, we must seek to understand our level of wakefulness and enhance it with each reflection, we must gently nurture the wakefulness of others, we must own our lived experiences, our individual pathways, and our collective responsibility, and because our efforts are in earnest we must forgive ourselves and one another with each exacting realization so that we move forward on behalf of the kids we serve and a brighter further for all.
In it together for the kids.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.