Staying Awake — It’s Not About SLEEP

Observing a holiday now known as ‘Civil Rights Day’ I am reminded that it has been more than forty years since the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King gave his last Sunday sermon.  In March of 1968, Dr. King gave a talk entitled “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.”  His point was that while we were living amid a period of extreme social change, many of us were failing to develop the new attitudes and mental responses required by new situations.  We were, in his words, ‘sleeping through the revolution.’  

Does this sound familiar?  How could this sermon possibly still have life and application so many years later– especially to seniors like us? 

You’re probably not surprised to see that I think it is applicable to each of our personal ‘revolutions’ associated with aging.  While perhaps the word ‘revolution’ most readily brings to mind ‘sudden and momentous change,’ it also refers to cycles, as in a ‘revolution around the sun.’  Personally I think there are times that both definitions can be applied to aging.  Some days ‘senior-hood’ seems like that sudden and momentous change… while on others it is just part of another trip around the sun. 

Whichever definition we choose, we would do well to stop and ask ourselves whether or not we are sleeping through the revolution.  Do we age without consciously recognizing that it brings change, new opportunities and new challenges?  Or, are we living in the past, sleep-walking through life, reading “Reminiscence” magazine, whining about ‘kids these days’ and longing for the ‘good old days’?  

With apologies to Carly Simon, these might just be the good old days.  Maybe we should all be spending more time looking forward to what’s coming next… savoring our goals, dreams and plans for the next week, the next year or the next decade.  Are you planning an exotic vacation or expecting a visit from friends or family?  Or maybe you’re reviewing college catalogues or planning another way to learn something new? 

What do you hope for and what are you doing to get it?

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