06: Those who wake us.
- July 17, 2016 -
“He who wakes us always wounds us,” Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote. I find myself thinking of this often.
There is so much about this quote that is reassuring to me. Whenever I have a remarkable encounter with someone — and I mean ‘remarkable’ not in the sense of ‘amazing’ or ‘extraordinary,’ but in the literal sense of ‘worth remarking about’ — his words almost immediately come to mind. These encounters, you see, tend to be remarkable because they awaken something in me. And, a lot of times, this kind of an awakening leaves behind a wound of some sort.
I don’t think of these wounds as being particularly painful or permanent, though. Rather, I see them more as a gentle nudge, an attempt at drawing me out of a slumber from which I’ve been reluctant to wake.
I liken it to the way it feels when I start to exercise again after not having done so in a while. The next day after that first workout, it’s as though every individual muscle in my body is making its presence known. It feels like an attack, like something that is intentionally negative, but these muscles are simply stretching their arms, coming awake, and reminding me that, yes, they’re still there, even though I’ve neglected to put them to use for so long.
Is it uncomfortable? Yes. But it is also necessary for growth.
Sometimes, we’ll meet someone who reminds us of something we’ve been missing. Other times, we’ll meet someone who alerts us to something we didn’t know we wanted. We’ll come across situations which challenge our thinking, push us to be our best selves, make us aware of our blind spots.. None of these are bad things, but the realizations which are brought about by their presence can often invite a certain amount of friction into our lives.
A lot of this, I think, comes back to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. When we are met with these awakenings, we can choose either to embrace them or ignore them; we can choose whether we wish to grow with these awakenings or be made smaller by them. And, if you ask me, those are some of the greatest, most pivotal decisions of our lives.