wake up!

28 01 2009

from Arcade Fire’s song “Wake Up:”

Children, wake up.  Hold your mistake up.  Before they turn the summer into dust.
Children, don’t grow up.  Our bodies get bigger but our hearts are torn up.
We’re just a million gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust!

In case you’d like to hear it:

I spend a lot of my time airing out my conflicts with my culture, and other cultures, but I’ve lately thought that I should perhaps just let others do it, since I find them often doing so more eloquently and beautifully.  “Wake Up” is a grand example, and this passage is particularly great to me.

In fact, it’s so good, that I’m not even sure how my experience relates to the songwriter’s.  I think about the fully automated nature of our economic system and the droids it seems to make of us–promoting the need for continuous consumption, cradle to grave, from the utilitarianistic educational system to the imposition of fears of financial inadequacy and everything in between–and I want to grab everyone I meet and yell “Wake up!” myself.  I walk amongst robots in my mind, and they’re all full of largely thoughtless mechanisms that fiercely avoid or defend their programming when they are challenged, no matter how clear any evidence provided.  And they march through their lives as their seasons pass…. and sooner or later, their summers turn to dust.

My favorite bit is the admonition against growing up.  We physically grow but our hearts get torn up.  We don’t learn to take care of our and each others’ hearts, and they, neglected, are eventually wrecked.  Not irrevocably!  I don’t believe that, ever.  But wrecked nonetheless.  I think the point is that it’s important to continue to foster a belief and an engagement in the magical aspects of the world.  It’s such a huge world, such a mysterious place, and so many of us allow ourselves to be creatively bottlenecked and pigeonhole ourselves, our skills, our interests.  It’s the silliest thing I can imagine, and yet it is the norm in our society.  It’s normal to stagnate our learning, or to follow the mandates of others’ ideas of education.  It’s normal to learn to perform a highly specified vocation and to do it repeatedly for many years.  It’s normal?

Ahem… we’re just a million gods causing rainstorms, turning every good thing to rust!

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One response

28 01 2009
red poncho bear

“the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” i received that quote inscribed on a small decorative piece as a present for graduating from college from my friend rebecca’s mom, mary anne. at the time, the phrase struck me as beautiful, and appropriate for the occasion. over the years, i’ve had it displayed in pretty much every place i’ve lived since then. i think i’ve always believed in the truth of the statement. but i’ve begun to realize that as much as i believe in that as truth, i don’t necessarily also believe in my dreams and that leads to a fairly massive disconnect in practice and belief for me. and i hate to over-analyze (it’s actually one of my strongest traits), but if i don’t align those two central parts to the core of my being, i don’t know if i can ever be happy. our bodies get bigger but our hearts are torn up indeed. thank you doug.

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