Morpheus: I imagine that right now you’re feeling a bit like Alice. Tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.
Morpheus: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he’s expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?
Morpheus: Why not?
Neo: ‘Cause I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind — driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheus: Do you want to know what it is?
(Neo nods his head.)
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window, or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, or when go to church or when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.
(In his left hand, Morpheus shows a blue pill.)
Morpheus: You take the blue pill and the story ends. You wake in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. (a red pill is shown in his other hand) You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. (Long pause; Neo begins to reach for the red pill) Remember — all I am offering is the truth, nothing more.
(Neo takes the red pill and swallows it with a glass of water)
When I first watched The Matrix, this dialog didn’t have much meaning to me, neither did the movie. To me, it was just a cool movie with great special effects and an interesting plot. At the time, I thought, what if this life is an illusion, a dream? What if?
Some time ago, I, metaphorically, took the red pill. I don’t know exactly when, but I believe that it was about the time that the Matrix came out, or perhaps a little sooner. It all started when I read a book called, The Simple Living Guide and when I watched a PBS show called: Affluenza: The epidemic of Overconsumption. These two books hit home and started my awakening, but I hadn’t taken the red pill just yet. After reading the book and watching the special, I began to feel uncomfortable about my overconsumption. Mind you, I have never been much of an over-consumer. I do prefer simplicity, but I just didn’t know what it was called. I fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Still, today I try to keep the clutter to a minimum and buy only what I need. There are deep considerations before purchases … for the most part. Sometimes I get carried away with camera equipment, though. There is still work to be done.
About a year ago, my wife started going through a transformation. It all started with some readings and then a silent retreat. After this retreat, she began her transformation in earnest. I was curious, so I soon followed, taking my own path. The first, and most important book that I have read thus far has been The Power of Now. This is the book that has shattered my illusion of control and awakened me from my autopilot mode.
I now recognize that the only semblance of control that I have over my life is summed up in this simple prayer, which never meant anything to me before, except that I thought that it was a nice platitude.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Serenity is ours to have and only we can provide it. We provide it by either acceptance or change and by knowing when change is possible. These are the only choices. People torture themselves endlessly by fighting against what is. They continually struggle, in pain, against what is hoping to make it what they want it to me, myself included. How The Power of Now fit into this was that I realized that I was missing life by having my mind focused on what had happened, or what might happen, instead of what is happening.
It’s interesting that the final stage, in any grief counseling is acceptance.
- Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
- Anger (why is this happening to me?)
- Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
- Depression (I don’t care anymore)
- Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)
How much better off would we be if we could move directly to that? I remember when each of my parents died, my mother in 1986, my father, nine years later, in 1995. I cried very little, only on the day of the funeral; however, for some reason, I was able to move directly to acceptance. There was not, as far as I remember, any denial, or other stages, just acceptance that they had died and there was nothing that I could do about it. I loved them dearly, but was able to move on quickly and not suffer. My friends tried to console me, but I didn’t need it. No one understood, not even me. People didn’t understand why I wasn’t inconsolable. It’s expected, unless: “He really didn’t love them!”.
I now realize that each moment is special and worthwhile. After you get a glimpse into this peace, you want more and more and more. After you wake up and realize that the answer is within you, not on Madison Avenue, or Jenny Craig, or Bowflex, or whatever, you start seeing things with new eyes. Does my mind run amok? Surely it does, but the difference between then and now is that I realize it and can stand as a casual observer to its rantings and ravings about my shortcomings, what happened in the past, what might happen. I’m no longer controlled by it. I’m no longer asleep.
Waking up, however, is not easy. Once you are awake, you start to examine many facets of your life and start to question many of your long held beliefs and why you’ve held them. You start to drift away from your friends who are still sleeping because, honestly, you have not much in common anymore. You are different, not better, just different.
My wife is far ahead on the trail in her awakening, I, on the other hand, am lagging behind. This causes difficulty and sometimes friction. I’m still in the mode of reacting to some situations where I perceive that I am loosing control. I’ve yet to be able to examine some things and accept them. When I do, it brings me peace. When I don’t, it brings me trouble.
There are many things that I’ve yet to accept about myself, but I’m getting there. I do have the capacity to change these things, but first I have to understand the root. As a character in The Matrix said later, when things got rough, “I’ll bet you wish that you’d taken the blue pill, now.” Sometimes, I do wish that, but once you’re awake, it’s impossible to go back to sleep.
Lastly, looking across religions, they pretty much say the same thing: Let go. Surrender to that which is greater than you. (Whatever your concept is).
I watched another very powerful movie this weekend, Peaceful Warrior. If you are into ‘the moment’ and The Power of Now, give it a look. If not, give it a watch anyway! Enjoy the journey!
Thanks for reading. Each time that I write, I learn something more about myself. I learn from your comments, as well. Thanks for teaching!