Most people seem content to sing an endless round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat …”


Thoreau said at the end of Walden

Only that day dawns to which we are awake.

This is often paraphrased as

The day only dawns to those who are awake.

But most people seem content to sing an endless round of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat …” .

Elsewhere I write,

Truth is a niche market.

There are very few of what T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) called “the dreamers of the day”

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

According to Brian McGuinness in Young Ludwig, p. 253, regarding Wittgenstein,

Thus he said to Groag, in a conversation later repeated in a letter to Engelmann:

We are asleep. Our life is a like a dream. But in our better hours we wake up just enough to realize that we are dreaming. Most of the time, though, we are fast asleep. I cannot awaken myself! I am trying hard, my dream body moves, but my real one does not stir. This, alas, is how it is!

According to Funkadelic

Free your mind and your ass will follow.

You may be just as likely to free your mind by moving your ass. The power of positive action. (According to Knarf Rellöm Trinity, “Move your ass and your mind will follow.”)

In any event, how many people really experience those “better hours” that Wittgenstein refers to? I like Gene Youngblood‘s vision, but would the majority of society participate in it if they had the option?

Elsewhere I write

The great books speak with everyone.

But is that really so? The discussion in this blog entry suggests that this is true only of a significant minority in society. I’d predict the proportions don’t differ much according to class, sex or ethnicity, but that they are nowhere near even 50%.

I hope I’m wrong about the small proportion of people who realize they are asleep and would like to wake up. We ought to try following some approach like that advocated by Youngblood and find out. And even if just twice as many such people as today had the opportunity to wake up, it would be a beautiful day.


Aside: It’s amazing how many Google hits you get for “Waking up is hard to do.”

Nice phrase. Apparently it’s originally a children’s record by Neil Sedaka, in which he changed the lyrics of an old hit of his called “Breaking up is hard to do”. Don’t think I’ve heard either version. I’m barely aware of Neil Sedaka, but it looks like he’s had a long, successful career and is still performing, so he must be doing something right. Interesting fact about his “Breaking up is hard to do”, according to Wikipedia

In 1975, Sedaka recorded a new version of “Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” The 1962 original was fast-tempo and bouncy teen pop, but the remake was slower and in the style of a jazz/torch piano arrangement. Lenny Welch had recorded the song in this style in 1970. It reached #8 on the pop charts in early 1976, making him the second artist to hit the US Top Ten twice with separate versions of the song, and the only artist to return to the Top Ten with a remake of their own #1 hit.

One response »

  1. When we’ve been sedentary for too many months and return to the gym or the hiking trail, the first few attempts to get back into shape are short and painful, but suddenly one time your muscles feel much better, as if they were waking up. Probably the first few attempts to wake up your brain or soul feel equally painful, but if you keep on pushing through you’ll find that they weren’t quite as atrophied as you feared. Life doesn’t have to be wasted time.

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