Brain Food #474

The uncomfortable choice

Comfort is easy, though it may not always be the best choice. Every realisation, and act of awakening, can be jarring. Cognitive dissonance is the psychological phenomenon of experiencing two opposing belief systems or ideas, leading to distress. It takes effort to recognise this, and even more effort to follow the path of difference, and not that of indifference.

Writer, poet, and activist Maya Angelou led a fascinating life, her work influenced by her own experiences and the people she encountered, including Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.

Angelou, who stayed mute for five years after a horrific personal incident, nonetheless used language as a means of expression. Awaking in New York is a poem about defiance, about the moment between darkness and light, moving away from innocence, suggested in the blissful ignorance of children sleeping. When a wave of change is felt, triggering an alarm within, it is up to us to make the uncomfortable choice and follow it, or to go back to sleep.


Awaking in New York

Curtains forcing their will   
against the wind,
children sleep,
exchanging dreams with   
seraphim. The city
drags itself awake on   
subway straps; and
I, an alarm, awake as a   
rumor of war,
lie stretching into dawn,   
unasked and unheeded.


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