When I first saw the film “The Matrix” something clicked inside me. I hadn’t been able to put my finger directly on it until somewhat recently. Now, as I’ve started this journey to wake up and be more present it feels more relevant than ever.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why so many of us are struggling to wake up and be present in our own lives. Part (or all?) of the answer is that the Matrix is real. It functions across society in a manner that keeps us from achieving our goals and becoming our true selves. It’s a working theory anyway.
This “Matrix” conspires to fool us, and it tells us lies. It feeds us images and ideas that do not allow us to explore ourselves. It is built to drive us to buy more things, consume more stuff, and in today’s technology driven world, keep us tethered to our devices. After all, eyeballs and advertising = revenue right?
The “Matrix” tells us we aren’t creative. It told me I wasn’t good enough to be a writer, or a director, or an actor. It told me I am too fat, or too skinny. Too ugly. Not smart enough. It says stuff and I eat it all. I bought it. The “Matrix” is nefarious, tricky, and evil. The “Matrix” is us.
No one person is to blame – I can’t blame celebrities, or bad governments, or the media. I can’t blame my parents and I can’t blame my boss. All I can do is recognize what is going on and construct defenses against it. My very own tower defense game of life.
The system does everything but love us. It wants us to fail. And for many years as I said, I believed it. I accepted that I was too fat, or to skinny. I unwittingly gave up my dreams of being a writer. A creative director. A comedian. I was afraid of failing, and surprisingly, of succeeding.
“The Matrix is a system, Neo.”
The “Matrix” is our enemy. I know because I’m still inside, at least part of the time. When I’m inside, I look around and see things I don’t want to see. I see myself doing things I don’t want to be doing. I see and hear that there are others. Whispers and rumors of a rebellion.
“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” – Morpheus
But, I had to choose. I reached a point in my own life where I was given a choice. Choose the red or the blue pill.
Take the blue pill and go back to sleep. Accept that I am not, and never will be talented or smart. Take the blue pill and relax. Go back to sleep. Allow myself to be swept back into the current. It’s easier. The “Matrix” will reward me, life is easier when you are asleep.
If I take the red pill, I am rewarded with confusion, disorientation and it’s scary. I am finding out quickly if you have talent, or if I do not. I am finding out if I are smart, or if I am not. I took the red pill and so I’m now forced to figure it out. Opening my eyes and seeing the world as it is. It is not easy. I have resisted and been on a diet of blue pills for a very, very long time. I’ve been telling myself it’s ok. I’ve been numbed and fooled. The voice in my own head has been lying to me.
I call that obnoxious voice in my head “My Resistance.” Fucking liar.
Even as I write this post I can hear it saying “You are such a fool. You don’t even know any of this is true. You love movies and think you are some sort of thinker. You are an idiot. Better off just go back to bed, or watch a movie. You know what, you deserve a big breakfast, go for it, on me! Treat yourself. Numb yourself. Destroy yourself.”
Like Neo (errr Mr. Anderson), I am part of the system until I take action against it. But it’s nasty, like a bad computer virus. Right now, even in my own brain my subconscious is working away at me, eating against the progress I’ve made. I am fighting it. Right now.
I see you Mr. Resistance. I am learning your game, and your tricks.
When I look outside myself for answers and for validation I have only gotten back criticism. And judgement. I get back values that are not my own. I am told my writing is not good enough. Bad grammar they say. Or that my poem is not good. Poor structure. It didn’t rhyme. You can’t dance to it. Whatever. I’m told I am not good enough, smart enough or creative enough. And I believed it all.
But the thing is, none of that is true.
I refuse to believe it anymore. I don’t even care if I’m wrong.
Thoreau wrote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.”
The games and amusements of mankind. Social media. Alcohol. Expensive toys and vacations. Living in the future, or in the past. Living under someone else’s judgements and assessments.
These are all things that are under my control and yet, I have allowed them to control me. When I think about taking control of these things and living the life I want to live, I get scared. It feels uncomfortable to think about deleting my social media accounts. Blasphemy, I might miss cute cats and what my friend is eating for lunch for fuck sake.
It is scary to sit and talk, really talk to a friend, with no pretense, no expectation of a return on my time. It’s odd to just sit and meditate in the middle of the day when I should be checking email, or jumping on a conference call.
It is scary to think about a world where I leave the comfort of a corporate career and actually do something on my own. Something that is my own, something I’m proud of. Something I can look back on and know deep down that I am talented, smart, funny, and creative.
Every single one of the reasons is “The Resistance” putting up it’s armor. Sending it’s dragons to kill me. Sentinels on loose.
My mission is to shred or ignore self-doubt and live life not in fear, but as a believer.
What’s your mission? Let me know.