Sleepwalking and Donuts


How conscious are you? Are you aware of the world around you, or are you sleepwalking through life, with your eyes wide shut?


We all come to different realizations at different times. What usually happens is: you have an intellectually stimulating conversation, you stumble upon an illuminating blog post, or a friend lends you a must-read book. Suddenly your concept of the world, of yourself, of how life works shifts into something new. Lately I’ve been frustrated to look around and see that alot of people are still unaware and unconscious of the way life works and how people and things around them work.


Sleepwalking and Donuts

When I got on the train on Friday, I sat behind these two girls. By girls, they could be anywhere from 15 to 22. They were admiring each other’s nails and hair, and another girl asked one of them who her stylist was and for the stylist’s phone number. When they got up to leave though, one thing I noticed was all 3 girls were significantly overweight.


Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers. I can stand to lose a few pounds myself. And who knows if these girls aren’t gym buddies or encourage each other to make healthy food choices. I pondered, not for the first time, how black women spend so much time and effort being concerned with periphery matters – our hair, nails, clothes and accessories, tv shows, celebrity trivia – but we neglect the two things in our lives that have the most value and we have the most control over — our minds and bodies.


Stop Making The Donuts


I remember these Dunkin’ Donuts commercials when I was growing up, where the Dunkin’ Donuts guy got up so early he shuffled around like a zombie on his way to make the donuts. Then he came home late, exhausted from his day, only to get up early and do it all over again. So many of us are traveling through life in this unaware state with our brains on autopilot. To compensate for our lack of feeling – not feeling satisfied in our careers, in our love lives, in our financial lives – we mask feelings of inadequacy by overconsuming.


Sleepwalking and Donuts

Instead of feeding our brains with knowledge, challenging and utilizing it and consuming stimulating material, we ‘zone out’ with hours and hours of TV, romance novels, games, etc. We allow our bored minds to drive us crazy with worry and self-doubt, avoiding the difficult task of controlling our thoughts, because we ignore that our minds are bored and need something constructive to do. Instead of feeding our bodies with nutritious food and large amounts of water, we overeat and drink sugary juices and sodas, hoping to get that same enjoyment that we don’t know we’re missing. We consume too much sugar, too much salt and too much fat, when our bodies really crave fresh fruits and veggies and water. But we ignore the sluggishness, the fatigue, the illness, and medicate those symptoms with drugs instead of self-care.


I’m so tired of living this way; aren’t you tired too?


Or are you asleep at the wheel and disconnected from the truth that’s before you?


I’m definitely with you on both of these issues…we only get one body and should do our best to care for it and a mind is “a terrible thing to waste”. I get laughs everytime I say this, but over the last two years I have gained a few pounds…not many, but enough for me to notice. So, thank you for keeping this subject in the forefront. We need to hear it as many times a possible in order for us to wake up!!!


And don’t you hate when you say that, and someone minimizes and says “you don’t need to lose any weight” and “you’re fine just the way you are”. Its nice that people don’t want you to feel bad, but at the same time a little frustrating because you’re not how you want to be and the person is not acknowledging that…


I get laughs about the weight gain. I’m 5’10″ and the few pounds are not as noticeable, but before you know it it’s a problem that’s out of control. Isn’t that how it all starts anyway? Noticing that there is a problem, but ignoring the signs. We have to wake up!!!


yep! Definitely how it starts! And black people are quick to say stuff like “nobody wants a stick” and “that just gives more to hold on to”. Yeah, ok. Its little stuff like my jeans fitting tighter, the sting in my thighs when walking up the stairs, or being winded when I run for the bus that really annoy me. Enough is enough, just as you said and if me feeling good means I’m not attractive to some, then so be it.


If you take your behind for a stroll or a run a number of times a week, the kids will follow suit. They will only eat what you feed them but if it is not healthy then you are sabotaging them. With regular exercise comes better self-esteem and thus better judgment; a healthy body breeds a health mind.


It may sound simple but it is a lot of hard work and well worth it in the long run.


Another part of the awakening process is not blaming where you are in life on your upbringing or cultural standards. In my mind, once you’re an adult and free to make your own decisions, its up to you to set your own life standards and access if the ways in which you currently think will garner the results that you really want. Like you said, attaining a healthy body brings you a healthy mind, and its only hard work at first. Once those habits and new standards are installed in your mindset, its just as much effort as your bad habits used to be.


However, that group of people is so small. The majority tend to lead their lives as their parents and all those before them have done. I am not making excuses but traditional and cultural norms have a pretty strong hold on people. We need them to have a sense of belonging and if someone has never experienced anything else, it is not easy for them to even imagine a different life.


It is not easy to change your ways or your thinking when the (unfavourable) environment you are in stays the same. I think a lot of people are tired of living the way you describe but they don’t know how to make the change so the carry on as usual. They just accept their “destiny”.


I know the cultural aspect doesn’t explain it all but it can’t be ignored. All those negative things you mentioned are learned and passed on why education is vital (and of course shouldn’t be shunned).


How do we own our lives if we don’t rely on our own standards for living them? If we rely on the standards that our parents have set, without examining if they’re the right ones for us, then aren’t our parents and society the owners of our lives, and not us?


the difficulty of breaking free from cultural and traditional habits. But not even understanding that you have a choice, and ignoring the opportunity to make that choice, is a form of sleepwalking through life. Because making NO choice is still a choice – to let life own you, and not the other way around.


Its definitely not easy, but the rewards of living in a state of awareness and conscious choice are worth it. A good example would be your own journey to become a runner. You could’ve continued to say “I don’t like running, my family doesn’t run, x kind of people [cultural group you belong to] traditionally aren’t runners” and ignored the desire that you had to conquer the negative connotation in your mind for running. But that’s not what you did. You got off the couch, laced up your shoes and started training. You developed a training plan and followed it with perserverance, dedication and focus. After you’ve completed your first 10K, then you’ll bask in the satisfaction of your achievement and the associated benefits that come from being a runner.