Pretending to Be Asleep

August 4, 2009 at 6:13 am 2 comments

I was doing a bit of research on Native American proverbs and came across this one from the Navajos:

“You cannot wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.”

It really struck me, and it’s been coming back to me for days now.  It’s the whole idea of being accountable to our own enlightenment.  If we know there is another, more humane or healthier or environmentally sounder, way we can behave, if we do not behave that way, aren’t we “pretending to be asleep”? Isn’t that worse, in a way, than truly being unaware?

I just read the novel, American Wife (just for fun, not a review–boy,  it sucked me in!).  The tale of a first lady, inspired by Laura Bush, focused in part on the psychological dilemma of how accountable she is for her husband’s actions that she did not speak up about, how responsible she is for what she does not say or do with her personal power.  Brilliantly told, the book had me thinking about this concept a lot.

On a cultural level, not unlike bystanders in such social tragedies as the Holocaust or the Tuskegee Experiment — how responsible are we when we see something happening, something we can do, but ignore it?

On an Earth level, why aren’t we all composting (why aren’t I? buy the composter for the patio already, Meeg!) or driving electric cars, or taking five-minute showers, by now? How many of us truly don’t know we should be doing this to help preserve the planet?

Even on a mundane, personal level, if I know I could be eating healthier or exercising (ahem) and I don’t, aren’t I also “pretending to be asleep”?  I’m speaking to a wellness expert tomorrow about a possible collaborative project, so I’m really thinking about the fact that I am currently deep in the mommy syndrome of taking care of the children and not so much myself these days.  Of course, opening myself to this project is also hopefully a way to nudge myself awake again on the personal wellness front.

It’s all about being awake, and it’s all connected, isn’t it?  It’s all connected…


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Greenwashing Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nilu  |  August 15, 2009 at 6:36 am

    Hi Megan,
    I came across your blog by visiting Mama PhD. Love your posts there. You are so right about us pretending to be asleep. I know I have to be more conscious of so many things I do.

  • 2. caroline  |  August 20, 2009 at 7:33 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes. I just read American Wife, too, and I love how you’re thinking about it here.

    Of course, sometimes I pretend to be asleep but in fact I have snuck out (while my husband and kids are still really sleeping) to run, or more often, read or write. There’s a little something protective, for moms, in pretending to be asleep sometimes. And that gives me the energy to be more connected and awake…


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To spark conversation about redefining success (as individuals, families and institutions) and to counter "never enough" messages currently circulating in our culture.

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Megan Pincus Kajitani: Writer, Editor, Former Academic Overachiever and Career Counselor, Mom, Wife, Feminist, Gen Xer, Californian who believes that change is possible View Megan Pincus Kajitani's profile on LinkedIn

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