Have you ever had a dream that you were getting ready for the day?
This morning, I slept through my alarm and had the most vivid dream about getting up, picking an outfit for the day, going to the bathroom, and brushing my teeth.
This dream was so vivid that the only reason I actually got up this morning was because I unintentionally spit all over myself when I was brushing my teeth in Dream World.
Yes, I woke up like this. Flawless? Not so much.
I am tired. I am spit-on-myself-to-wake-up-in-the-morning tired. And I don’t write this to be “Woe is me, I am so busy.” I write this, because maybe you’re tired, too.
All for what? For me, it’s to gain knowledge in the most traditional sense. Books, papers, articles, scholarly journals… and I’m barely keeping up. What’s the result? I feel like a bad student.
A critique of the academy:
In conversation recently, someone used the phrase “Knowledge is power.” I’ve heard this phrase a million times before, and I thought for a moment if I truly believe it.
And I didn’t. My answer is more like– it depends.
I asked myself, “Where do I get my power?” Not the type of power that gives me authority over people or power to make more money… and not even power to influence other people. But that deep power in your core that every person has internally and drives your decision-making fire. The kind of power that makes you feel energized, present, confident… oh yeah, and happy. Isn’t all this work suppose to lead to happiness or something?
Can I be happy and tired as fuck at the same time?
Am I saying yes too often? But what about when I say “no” in order to take care of myself, and now I have less on my resume? Am I giving into some patriarchal approach to “success” that drives me into the ground to the point that I am spitting on myself to wake up in the morning?
This is deeper than time management.
I love knowledge. It’s the reason I’m in a graduate program. But how much am I expected to skim a stack of readings, get what I can from them, process it, and spit out a well-though out critical analysis… while also managing the rest of my life? Too often I’m advised “Just get it done. Just write it and get it done.”
But I don’t want to just “get it done.” I want to think deeply about the shit I’m reading about colonization. I want to understand how institutional forms of oppression still show up today (and maybe God-forbid cry a little bit of how it’s shown up in my own life). I want to connect deeply with the readings and write the most poetic response you’ve ever seen in your life– not just become a robot that pumps out papers. This “knowledge” doesn’t make me feel powerful at all; it makes me feel tired.
So I got to thinking about other sources of power… things other than collecting knowledge from books and journals that make me feel alive and well, powerful.
A short list– sources of power:
– relationships/ one-on-one conversations (this is my #1 source of power) | Relationships are power.
– silence/time to reflect on personal experiences | Reflection is power.
– art/expression/creativity | Art is power.
– environmental connection to nature | Connection to nature is power.
– knowledge | Knowledge (is also) power.
But these sources of power aren’t the types that get rewarded most of the time. Too often I envision power as a sort of weapon– to protect me, help others, and fight off the baddies. But what if we take away the external force and focus on power individually? And what if other sources of power actually got affirmed and welcomed?
Maybe then I’d sleep a lot better.