How to wake up

This entry is part 1 of 39 in the series Manual


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This is the first page of the missing manual, designed to be understood only by those who have no need of it.

Waking up isn’t for everyone.

Dreaming is an anodyne to our nearly inescapable grief.

But if you must awaken, make your bed inside a kettle drum and pray for rain.

When it starts to thunder, climb onto the roof and cling to the lightning rod.

Waking up isn’t for those who are already dead.

You have to start from a position of strength: go fetal.

Every zipper yearns for closure, but it can’t be rushed.

The mountain isn’t going anywhere—stop trying so hard!

Early birds are known only from the fossil record, having met their end in the jaws of nocturnal beasts.

Leave a window open for cat burglars and cats, either of whom might teach you how to travel light.

Waking up isn’t for sleepers.

Eternity can be bribed, though, if you’re subtle about it.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. This has so many treasures lodged in it that it would be futile for me to examine them all here. Too much like dissecting the bird in order to attempt to describe its beauty. Suffice to say instead that once again I find myself thanking the universe for Dave Bonta.


    1. And I thank the universe for readers like Clive Hicks-Jenkins! Get comfortable. There will be more of these.


  2. Yes, very clever, Mr. B.

    I like these. And they remind me in a subtle, underground sort of way of the sleepers and wakings in “Walden.”


      1. Ah, it’s a grand re-reader (which I mean as a grand thing to reread and as a thing to be read by–it does have a quality of judging the reader, I think.)


  3. I like this very, very much.

    (Also it’s an interesting counterpoint to my first podcast attempt, which is all about morning practices and waking-up rituals.)


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