10 WAYS THE WOMEN’S MARCH INSPIRED ME

Written on the bus back from DC, Kate Atkinson shares 10 ways the women’s march inspired her…

Kate on the bus to DC

It’s been a hell of winter. As revered actress and feminist Meryl Streep so accurately said, opening the floodgates for women world wide: “In the last few months, at times, I’ve felt as if I “lost my mind.”

Melodramatic much? Not for me. I’m a news media professional. I thrive on absorbing information and understanding people, brands, and causes. And since 11/9, I’ve spent late nights burrowing into internet rabbit warrens. I have spent anxious hours trawling the web and raging with friends via text, levels of research I never conducted when I was at University studying for my BA in journalism.

“Why do this to yourself?” I have repeatedly asked myself. But for some reason, the outcome of a Trump victory stirred me up deeply. It awoke a furious sleeping anger I never even knew burned in me. I have psychoanalyzed it and self-helped it to death. Answers have been hard to come by. And as if my own mental struggle wasn’t intense enough, friends have come forward and told me they aren’t okay either. Some told of to sexual assaults they’d buried for years. Men who’d groped them as teens and made them feel insignificant—which they’d shrugged off as just another teenage learning curve.

The day after the inauguration, a friend and I got up at 4am and got on a bus to Washington DC to march in solidarity for not only women, but for all whose freedom and human rights feel at risk under the incoming administration. We were joined by 3 million marching globally, all of us saying: “ENOUGH.” And actually, “fuck you” to the patriarchy.

In the lead up, I read a media stories talking about this being a “flawed” protest, questioning why it was just for women, asking what purpose it would serve. I’d partaken in aggressive social media discussions and been reminded over and over (at times on a personal level) about the futility of protesting.

Well, this weekend was the most inspiring of my life. Read on for 10 reasons why:

Kate and her bus mates

1. HUMANITY = POWER
The reason the current state of affairs is so alarming, is that the bad guy appears to to be winning. Sexual assault and quite frankly, basic human values, are second to power.Or are they? The marches reminded me that WE are the power. Throughout history, we have been reminded of this by figures such as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Maya Angelou. Collectively, we can move mountains. The only thing holding us back is self belief.

2. CREATIVITY AS CATHARSIS
I saw a woman brandishing a giant crocheted reproductive system. I saw giant moveable sculptures. Puppets, a tribe of Donald Trump horses. Paintings that could have been at MoMA. I made a new artist friend who GAVE me a sign, because she’d painted several to deal with her inner turmoil. I saw people on stilts, rappers, instrumentalists, singers. All using their talents to support the same cause. As well as the funnier signs—”WE SHALL OVERCOMB” being a fave—some really pulled my heart. A two-year-old with a sign saying “I love naps but I stay woke.” Creativity helps us heal. I will be painting, paper mache’ing, croche’ing and dancing more in the future.

3. OPEN CONVERSATIONS
So forgive me if I’m oversharing in my post-protest bliss, but I’ve had two pre-cancer operations on my cervix. And yes it was scary as shit. A while back I would have been ashamed to share this, now, absolutely ZERO fucks given. Why? Because why is that shameful? I’ve been lucky enough to milk my healthcare system at home in Australia. Other women in this country would have turned to planned parenthood. It’s a lottery of luck I wasn’t born in a red state. Just today, the NY Times reported that the death rate from cervical cancer in the US is considerably higher than previously estimated and the disparity in death rates between black women and white women is significantly wider.

This whole shit show has opened a dialogue for issues that matter. Who cares if you’re depressed? We do. Who wants to hear about your time feeling ashamed for that? We do.

4. REALITY IS UNDERRATED
Ever found yourself writing rants at a computer screen, diving deeply into the lives of people you don’t know? A few days before Obama left office, he said: “tired of having arguments on the internet? Try speaking to them in real life.” We CAN connect in person. In groups. We are not our computers and our phones. Make a friend. Have coffee. Share. Talk. I am overwhelmed by the blowing up of my phone by women in the last few weeks. Launching fashion brands, needing help in connecting people to do so, media professionals trying to create their own movements and how to all not normalize any of what is going on.

5. NEW FRIENDS
I went to a group pre-march meeting – sober – and I met new people I’m now emailing about doing more “good stuff.” Including Elizabeth Azen, one of the nastiest women around with new kickass brand The Dynasty @thisisdynasty. I also made two new artist friends on the bus and spent all day with them, cracking jokes with one common cause – equality . Repeat: we are not designed to be digital humans. One side effect of standing up for what you believe in is the rad new people you will meet.

6. YES WE CAN
It’s so easy to be a hater. It’s so much easier to say: “this is pointless, we are outnumbered, we can’t make a difference.” As the march showed me—we damn well can, and it starts with you! Show up. Read up. Stay woke. Get nastier.

7. FEMINISM ISN’T JUST ABOUT NEUROTIC BRA-BURNING BULLSHIT
Some men still struggle with feminism. Well—newsflash—I’m not really into some of the things those people “hate” about feminism either. I’ve accepted that being a woman means I’m expected to smile and flirt through life. I use this to my advantage and love it when it means I can get something for free. It’s like Madonna said, “I’m a bad feminist.” But equally, I’ve been shamed many times, personally and professionally, for being too outspoken. For not being “refined” enough. And feminism in 2017 is about an end to that BS. In our lives, in our careers. It’s fine to sexualize women. Women are damn sexy. But don’t patronize us. Like Carrie Fisher said: “Some women play hard to get, I play difficult to understand.”

8. SOBER STREET PARTIES ROCK
I’ve been to my fair share of bars and clubs. I’ve been a drinker many years. And you know what? This was the best dance party of my life. What could have felt like a wake, a day for tears, was the best “straight” high of my life. Need substances to lose your mind? Try raging down the street to the beat of a gazillion strangers from all over the country singing in time: “We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” or: “This is What Democracy Looks like!” with glitter, and signs, and animals, and carnival performers, and megaphones, and parked cars with their own dance parties. Try screaming from a place you never knew you had, a guttural cathartic place you used to roll your eyes if people even told you existed.

9. REMEMBER TO RAGE
The systems are broken. They are not working. People will tell you to cooperate. But it’s time to rage against the machine. The mantra: “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me.” The media aren’t cooperating—neither should we.

10. IT BEGINS WITH ME
I’ve been on my own journey with self-care this last while. Not always easy. I’m not just talking about eating right and SoulCycle. I’m talking about that breaking that feminine perfectionist tendency for blaming myself, and giving myself a goddamn break. Move towards this, I am finding, and the whole world becomes more accepting of me. I haven’t mastered it. But none of us can participate fully, until we believe in what we are here to give.

So please keep marching girls who just wanna have fun(damental rights). I’m with you every step. Get nasty. Be nastier. Read, write, CREATE, and stay woke. And like the most badass feminist ever, the Wicked Witch of the West, once said: “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too.”

COMFORTABLY NUMB: JUST SAY NO TO PEOPLE-PLEASING

Used to numbing out her own needs by being hyper-helpful, Kate Atkinson has been learning how to just say “NO” to people-pleasing…

“We’re all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other but it doesn’t. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” – Charles Bukowski

People have asked a couple of things of me this month. You know, the usual friend favors. It happens daily right? Do you think you could walk my dog? Can I borrow some cash until the end of the month? Hey, would you mind checking over my resume? I’ve done it myself plenty of times, and given these small acts of good will in return. Natural right? Favors and back-scratching are a part of life…except that recently, I haven’t felt so accommodating.

In fact, there have been a few requests in lately where I’ve felt like saying: “do you know what actually—no.” Except that I won’t. Instead, I will let the emails fester in my inbox until they’ve burned a hole in my psyche, turning them over and over in my head until I think I am going to explode.

That’s right, I’m a “yes” wo(man). As in, I really don’t know how to say “no.” Like a narcotic, I get high on my own hyper-helpfulness—every email a ping of serotonin: “I got this.” Except that running on a treadmill of responsiveness has become exhausting, and these days I don’t know who I’m running the race for.

My “yes” complex has also proven to be a useful numbing strategy, when I’ve got sucked so far down the vortex of helping and fixing I fail to see things as they really are—acting so quickly to keep others happy that my own, likely un-met, needs become irrelevant. There’s an old adage that resentment is like letting someone live rent free in your head. And if that’s the case, I’ve been letting out an entire Brooklyn apartment block to a bunch of freaks.

In my research about how to get better at saying “no,” here’s my number one discovery—the modern way of affirming negative goes something like this: say nothing at all. Repeat.

In this always-connected age, the pretend-I-just-didn’t-get-the-memo is what comes out trumps. Ignore it, and hopefully it will disappear. But what’s it doing to us, this radio silence? And like, why can’t we just be fucking honest with each other? What I want to know is, when was the last time you said “no” to someone, guilt free?

Try it:

“No, I am not coming to that dinner because I think the people are extremely shallow and self absorbed.”

“No, I won’t head over when your boyfriend’s out of town because you didn’t answer my call when I needed you.”

“No, I won’t work for you for free because actually—what the blimmin’ heck have you done for me lately?”

Feels great right?

This is because, as Melodie Beattie writes in The Language of Letting Go: “When we learn to say no, we stop lying. People can trust us, and we can trust ourselves. All sorts of good things happen when we start saying what we mean…(and) we don’t have to offer long explanations for our decisions.”

Rewind to a me watching a talk by the inimitable Marina Abramovic. The outspoken Russian and her pal Laurie Anderson both had a fair bit to say about living vs dying, and both were riffing on codes to live by…how we are to get the most out of our lives in the limited time that we have on earth.

The theme that came through loud and strong was the importance of marching to the beat of one’s own drum. To cut it with the people-pleasing, and find your own voice. Because, to put it simply: YOLO.

Words that have sunk in, this past month, to a backdrop of several people in my circle suddenly dropping like flies. No morbid details, rather to say that sometimes, suddenly, you are served a brutal reminder that our days in this life are limited.

So how can we stop people-pleasing, and spend our precious hours crafting a life we want?
By getting comfortable that you’re going to miss out. By getting down with the fact that it’s okay to not show up when people “need” you sometimes. By realizing that you only get one life, and that while friends and intimacy are important, not for one second are you here to live your life for someone else. By realizing that while some people might bitch you out, your real mates are going to stick around.

N-O. Say it. Say it louder! Time to stop pepping with the yes pills. And settle into the headspace that comes from realizing that less can most definitely be more.

COMFORTABLY NUMB: EAT THE PAIN AWAY

Is our obsession with healthy food just another way to eat the pain away, asks Kate Atkinson? Images: Instagram.com/dishpigs

“Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard! “

Lionel Bart, Oliver – Food, Glorious Food Lyrics, 1968.

Cut to the twenty first century: “I’ll have the burger please. Only I won’t have the bun. Or do you have gluten free bread? Wheat gives me hives. Does it have seeds in it too? Where was the meat farmed? Were the cows happy, like REALLY happy? I mean, ecstatic. Oh and can you make sure there isn’t any cheese on there? I’m allergic to dairy. My whole face turns bright yellow when I eat it. Actually I’ll just have some lettuce, thanks.”

To quote the Miranda July film title, this has begun to sound just a little like me and you and everyone we know. And apologies in advance to all my vegan, gluten-free friends out there, but can we just take a step back from obsessing over every morsel that goes in our mouth for a moment?

I’ll preface this by admitting I ate gluten-free bread the other morning (and full disclosure, it was really not as good as sourdough). Why? Because I’d travelled from the NY winter (read: seven layers of clothes + one extra layer of fat) to my home town of sunny Sydney, and found I was suddenly hyper aware of what I ate. But how many of us actually have a serious intolerance to gluten i.e. celiac? Why not just say we feel fat, and are convinced for some reason that “gluten-free” also means less calories?

Here’s some food for thought: are we depriving ourselves of the snacks we know and have always loved, inventing all sorts of conditions, because we’re ashamed to admit that actually we just really want to be perfect? Ashamed of looking stupid and being so susceptible to the unattainable ideals we’re pushed, since we all know perfection is impossible.

As ballet coach Thomas Leroy says to an emaciated Natalie Portman in Black Swan: “Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. Surprise yourself so you can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them.” And when it comes food, I think we should do likewise.

Back in high school, the pursuit of body-perfection meant doing star jumps in the toilet cubicles and puking when we thought no one is looking. Not me personally, but many girls I knew.

Now we’re all grown up, its our addiction to false nutrition bullshit that’s feeding the same appetite for fear. See the modern malaise of Orthorexia nervosa – literally translating as “proper appetite”, and a pathological fixation with eating only “healthy food,” that has aptly been described as “a disease disguised as a virtue”.

A condition in its infancy, Orthorexia is not yet recognized as a psychiatric disorder – but I see focussing so thoroughly on virtuous eating as just another way of distracting ourselves from our reality, and numbing what’s really going on.

I believe perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order – and deprivation just another means of exercising control in a world of imperfect unknowns. On a parallel with OCD, it’s a way of ignoring our pain and conforming to perceived societal norms…but what for exactly? To maintain the body of a 12-year-old who’s never even menstruated, or, come to think of it, slept with a man who told them they had a great ass?

A friend of mine, Georgia Ashdown, has recently started a blog in Australia called Dish-Pig as a way of exploring women’s relationship with food. Her crowd are foodies, but they aren’t obsessive, and while they’re all about sustainability and conscious eating, they also champion the enjoyment of food in a progressive way. Think hot babes (US Vogue are fans) eating ACTUAL food, not cotton wool!

I think it’s time for a new language around food. Most women (myself included) have a long way to go in learning to truly love  our own bodies. With so much social conditioning about we should look under our clothes, how can we not feel terrible when we see ourselves in the mirror naked?

By realizing none of this shit actually matters, because it really, really doesn’t. By remembering we are not the women being forced to marry suicide bombers in ISIS. By taking the time to tell each other how great our asses look. By realizing that it is totally normal and acceptable to pig out sometimes and not rush to justify it to others and ourselves. By no more comparing ourselves to celebrities or impossibly thin friends. By reading up properly on food, not just jumping on the latest fad diet when it comes along. By realizing that the people you want to look good for really DON’t care – they just want you to be happy in your own skin.

There are so many things in the world we can’t control. A talking head that no one can quite believe has been given an international stage. Gun laws that mean your four-year-old is able to shoot you. Climate change. Terrorism. Police brutality.

Can’t we just enjoy and be grateful for the simple pleasures we have?

To quote political activist and author Anne Lamott:

“I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is you will die anyway, and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

We are all enough. More than enough. So isn’t it time we ate enough, too, and stopped picking toppings off our pizza? It’s getting really, really boring.

COMFORTABLY NUMB: AN AMNESTY ON COOL

Enough with the hiding your real self behind your artfully composed selfies. It’s time to call an amnesty on cool, says Comfortably Numb columnist Kate Atkinson.

 

I want to declare an amnesty on modern cool – realizing this is one of the most uncool statements I could write, and more than aware that several people will probably be cringing reading this. If you are, call me anti-millennial and grind away. But if you’d have hoped we’d left it behind in high school, it seems like “cool” is an extremely contagious epidemic no thanks to the digital revolution.

What exactly is cool anyway? It’s an intangible phenomena that you can’t really touch, a state of being that defines the way you walk and talk, what you wear, the music you listen to, where you’re eating, and whether something is on trend – that is, worthy of likes on Instagram. It’s visceral. You can just feel it. And when it comes to true self-expression, I have to say, the modern version is a straight-jacket.

I also want to preface this story with the fact that while, yes, I do have tattoos, by no means am I an expert on cool. I was on the debating team at school – enough said. But I have got up close and personal enough with this insidious contagion to know how it works, and the more I examine its motives, it’s beginning to feel like cool is the root of an identity crisis that’s plaguing our generation.

A girlfriend put it perfectly when I asked what it means to be cool: “it’s the desire to be accepted, the need for validation, the urge to seem radical, despite longing to fit in.” And so it goes. Oh, the dichotomy of being human. Our narcissistic tendencies AND our insecurities are fuelled by cool, especially at a time when platforms for inclusion and exclusion are at an all time high.

Are you aspiring to be an “influencer?” This breed is all about being seen and accepted, “liked” on the interweb. For them, Instagram is basically a digi-friendly version of the high school cheerleading team. Things are sold to us now by “seeding” them with cool people. Brands, celebrities, and destinations are made by their manufactured “cool factor.” What I want to know is, what happened to under-the-radar cool of yesteryear?

In his 2013 book “The Cool School”Glenn O’Brien talks about the new tastemakers. But his cool  “squad” were, put simply, incredibly creative weirdos. Homeless Jazz beatniks, bohos and roaming beat poets. Anyone who made people uncomfortable basically. Something tells me that they wouldn’t be invited to Kim and Kanye’s dinner party.

We live in an age of such style over substance that it’s incredibly hard to rage against the machine and do your own thing. In fact, a study commissioned by smartphone maker HTC late last year revealed that 52% of the approximately 1000 Brits surveyed admitted to posting images of possessions and items with an intention of making their “friends” jealous. What the hey?

Wasn’t this cool thing supposed to be people going against the grain? Rather than just sticking up photo-shopped images captioned: “I ate, I pooped, I wore Celine!” Now pardon my French, but WTF? If this isn’t numbing what’s going on in our down and dirty daily human reality, I don’t know what is.

Because cool these days is about hiding the “sad” half of your life and projecting the best bits. Ambivalence is also key – pretending not to care, even (especially) if you do. Which is basically saying to your soul that your true hopes and aspirations count for nothing unless they fit with whatever’s trending this month. And yet, as the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character puts it in cult classic Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

A moment please to consider this: when the cool castles in the sky come crashing down around you and you’re left with the reality of your life, who out of your carefully curated online “tribe” will actually be there to help cushion the fall? Because what you’re really doing when you shield the real you with a glossy veneer of cool, is construct a bulletproof force field that deflects true intimacy.

So beside a total social media detox and cancelling our memberships to Soho House, how can we wake up from this aspirational bullshit existence that we’re creating for ourselves? By taking the time to get conscious to how we while away our days, and creating meaning in every interaction. By walking our talk, with our roots firmly entrenched in reality.

It sounds so obvious, but social media is the great distractor when it comes to following your own expressive intuition….and it’s there for seeking approval when you do actually create something. The old greats weren’t preoccupied with showcasing their creativity, they just did it.

It’s a mythic delusion and a safety net to communicate and earn accolades in this way – as well as a way to mask what’s actually going on. Surely giving away change on the subway is also worth a few “likes” – so why aren’t we posting on Instagram about that? “Saw a nice guy dish out change today on the subway – what a dude!” Shouldn’t he be the real “influencer?”

These stories DO come up on social media – and when they do it’s meaningful, the positive slant on modern technology. But too often, they’re engulfed in a stream of exclusivity: “I ate this, my bae wears that” – with resulting countless digital high fives and @s to follow.

I know my feed rarely delves beyond the aesthetics. And yes, fashion week happens, and friends stay in epic mansions. There are days at the beach with the clearest water ever. Again, I am not counting myself out of ANY of this malarchy, I am as partial to a well-posed selfie as the rest of us. But the lack of reality is what’s wrong with this whole picture, and it’s beginning to be all I can see.

Can’t somebody invent “Unstagram” for the days you’re feeling a bit off? For when you get dumped, you spent the last two days in tracksuit from Target, or you have an embarrassing medical problem?

Because you know what’s really cool? Being real. Not some projection of me me, me, me, I’m so fabulous, watch me eat, watch me sleep! Watch me break my arm! Look at me tagging historical references to show how tapped in and culturally aware I am.

Are we really this dumb? Is there no end to our ridiculous need for validation? This is the worst kind of cool that there is, and what’s more, this culture of exclusion is not social by any means. It’s actually scientifically proven to be making people chronically depressed.

So in a recent discussion with a friend on a rather significant life choice that involved making a potentially un-cool move, when she advised me to: “Fuck cool” – I decided I whole-heartedly concur.

NOT by Ernest Hemmingway

You are not your age,

Nor the size of clothes you wear,

You are not a weight,

Or the color of your hair.

You are not your name,

Or the dimples in your cheeks,

You are all the books you read,

And all the words you speak,

You are your croaky morning voice,

And the smiles you try to hide,

You’re the sweetness in your laughter,

And every tear you’ve cried,

You’re the songs you sing so loudly,

When you know you’re all alone,

You’re the places that you’ve been to,

And the one that you call home,

You’re the things that you believe in,

And the people that you love,

You’re the photos in your bedroom,

And the future you dream of,

You’re made of so much beauty,

But it seems that you forgot,

When you decided that you were defined,

By all the things you’re not.

COMFORTABLY NUMB: WHY ARE WE ALL AFRAID TO FEEL?

Dry January opened my eyes to how I’ve been comfortably numb, so this year I’m committing to feeling it and healing it, says Kate Atkinson.

‘Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.” Ringing an opiate bell in your psyche? If you’re a borderline millennial like me, you’re shamefully more likely to recall the Scissor Sisters version before the much more pleasant, sedate and, well, numbing, Pink Floyd original of the track “Comfortably Numb.”

But this song bears a special significance in my world right now. Having completed my first ever dry January I, like I suspect many Instagramming, Malbec-drinking, Bumble-ing, Happn-ing global citizens, have realized to what extent I’ve been moving through my life in a similarly cozy but numbed-out state.

The Oxford Dictionary defines “numb” as depriving us of the power of sensation. So to do so in any capacity means more or less living and feeling at a fraction of our capabilities. Or in Numi speak: “vibing at a lower frequency.” By CHOICE. How depressing is that?

And it’s not just the booze. NYC might be a cultural smorgasbord, but it also offers ready access to all the compulsions that can take you down a rabbit hole of distraction and, eventually, longing.

Rather than dealing with our shit, we drink. Opposed to being alone, we over engage on social media (no wonder “Digital Addiction” has become an actual “thing”). Others get high on the rush of success and pepped on promotion. There’s addiction to substances, of course – legal medications, essential oils, cocaine. Addiction to online dating.  Addiction to people. Addiction to pizza. Addiction to tattoos. Addiction to solitude. Addiction to sex.

The list is endless, and the more you get to thinking about it, the more it feels like anything can become an obsession when you’d rather numb-out than feel…and deal. Then there’s the replacement of one addiction with another. Partying for yoga. Work for a relationship…and so it goes.

Without booze to cloud this revelation, I’ve only become more aware of back-to-back evenings of time wasting on Facebook; the getting obliterated after a bad day at work; the 18 nights a month I eat pizza. And many more obsessions I don’t care to list in a public forum.

And I’ve decided this is no way to live. Along with this newfound awareness, I’ve realized how sick I am of the “terrifying Tuesdays,” the hours spent staring at my phone, of saying I’ll do things I never do, and spending my precious hours on mind numbing, opposed to mind-expanding activities.

So what’s the alternative? Bottom line is it’s tough to to feel the full spectrum of your emotions. It is hard to stay at home and sit with your loneliness, when grappling with an overwhelming desire to put it all behind you, just for one night.

Personally, that social itch and need to be surrounded by others is a compulsive distraction, and when I obey it and ignore my calmer (and undoubtedly more vulnerable) intuition, generally the more disasters head my way. The thing with numbing is it becomes a cycle. Drink too much. Make bad dating decisions. Attack your liver again with Advil. Waste $40 on breakfast. And so it goes.

With this in mind, I’m accepting you have to “feel it to heal it” – which means, for now at least, I am committing to a time of being UN-NUMB. And what this will entail exactly I don’t know, since I’ve been living comfortably numb for well over a decade.

Nonetheless, I want to commit to it this year. I have no idea what I’m doing – and already I’m finding myself interested in activities I would have laughed at this time last year. So welcome to my blank canvas of withdrawal…which right now seems to be manifesting into this column.

Signing off until next time, with one of my favorite quotes from Anais Ninn:

“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book…or you take a trip…and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating.

The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death.

Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken.”