Have you ignored the red flashing light on your vehicle’s dashboard? Have you ignored the hole in your shoe? Have you ignored a personal problem? We can miss or even dismiss warning signs of danger ahead. Shock and surprise can knock us off life’s balancing beam. A wake-up call shouts, “Now, I have your attention!” Realizations can challenge and change values and priorities. And promote action.
“In the absence of wake-up calls, many of us never really confront the critical issues of life.”—
“The purpose of wakeup calls is to awaken you to something you’re ignoring,” surmises the author of a 2017 article in Psychology Today. A persistent problem or situation wants your utmost attention.
Some experience health wake-up calls. Some experience addiction wake-up calls. While others experience greed wake-ups calls. Spiritual or religious epiphanies can arrive as a result of a wake-up call. An extra marital affair can be a wake-up call to either leave the marriage or work on the marriage.
“Cancer is such a wake-up call to remind us how high the cosmic stakes really are and how short and brief and frail life really is.”—Joni Eareckson Tada
In a 2018 opinion column in the Winnipeg Free Press, a Canadian newspaper journalist writes, “The wake-up call, this time, came after Anthony Bourdain died. It came when I was curled up under a blanket, tears staining my pillow. Thinking about how the author and traveller’s life had ended, lost in that aching pain. For days, I struggled to understand the depth of my grief. I felt Bourdain’s absence, in ways that seemed outsized for someone I didn’t properly know. Yet all the same, his death left me undone, fixating on a sad, lonely question. If even he didn’t want to see how the story ends, what hope was there for me? That thought would lead me to decide, for the first time in my life, to take stress leave from work. It would lead me to face the evolution of my depression, and grapple with the slow dissolution of the ambitions I once tended.” Signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety can be a wake-up call to attend counseling.
Planet Wake-Up Calls
Alarms are ringing on climate change, water pollution, and fossil fuels. The polar bear is the poster child for climate change. Can polar bears adapt to climate change?
Why rescue bats from threatening diseases? Bats eat bazillions of mosquitoes and other insects. Why save honey bees? Because bees are our most effective pollinators.
Ignoring the signs of an impending hurricane can have dire consequences. Smaller issues can turn into bigger issues when not addressed.
Admit. Accept. And activate an agenda.
Is a wake-up call calling you? Answer it.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in US.