I happened to watch The Matrix the other day for the umpteenth time. It’s one of those movies that can be relevant or not depending on how you look at it. For those of you who haven’t seen it, at it’s core the movie is about belief, what’s real, and discovering your potential. If you haven’t seen it, watch the movie before reading further (I’ll wait). Good, now you are caught up.
There are a couple subtleties that often get missed because we are focusing on Neo dealing with his mind being blown by what’s happening in his world. At the same time there is Morpheus – calm, cool and collected as Neo’s guide through the looking glass. While I haven’t found myself waking up in a post apocalyptic world run by machines – there are a few parallels in the real world. If you are reading this you may be at the point of realizing that you don’t fit in, that there seems to be something more to life or work, but you don’t know what it is. Welcome to the Matrix.
It probably goes beyond dissatisfaction with your house, job, spouse, whatever. You actually may be happy with all of those things. But still something is missing. You watch other people put in their 40 hours, buy lottery tickets and beer for the weekend, and you are thinking – I don’t want that to be me. Unlike the movie you are probably not going to get a wake up call from anemic looking, sun glass wearing, government agents who are trying to suppress you. It’s probably going to be more subtle. Things that you might have accepted may start to frustrate you. Maybe you’ve started writing – just because. You may find yourself toying with some crazy ideas like – how can I live in the south of France part time (when you’ve never been there). Or maybe it’s just a profound realization that you can do your job in your sleep and a paycheck is the only thing keeping you there.
Maybe it is something more profound like a sense that we aren’t alone in the universe. Or maybe the idea that there is more to your connection with God than what you may have learned from traditional teaching. It may be annoying in that it may not make logical or practical sense, but you still can’t shake the idea that parts of your life should take a different direction. This can be more than a little unsettling since it may go against convention or may challenge the relationships you have. Your family doesn’t understand. And you coworkers don’t know and wouldn’t understand even if you did tell them.
Taking The First Step
You probably won’t be told to “follow the white rabbit” and suddenly have one appear. Maybe an opportunity will present itself, or someone might suggest an idea. Maybe you will be asked a question that you have been thinking about. What if I started a business, or sold the house, or started studying Buddhist teachings? Back to the Matrix, when Morpheus and Neo first meet, Neo is offered a choice. Take the red pill and see where this goes, or take the blue pill and go back to life as it was. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about something similar in her book Big Magic. Her analogy has to do more with creative ideas visiting you and deciding whether you want to accept them or not. The concept is the same. Most people will succumb to the fear of what they don’t know and instead accept what they are comfortable with.
I see this a lot with potential clients who want to make a change in their life or job. They want to peak behind the curtain and feel safe about the decision to go forward, but it doesn’t work that way. They will share their ideas and their dreams but as soon as you validate it and try to show them what is possible, they retreat. The need for safety is generally stronger than the need for change. If it was easy everyone would do it. And if you are reading this, you may be trying to weigh the benefits of taking the red pill over the blue pill or vice versa. Most people dismiss the idea, have their midlife crisis, pop the blue pill and go back to their cubicle, spouse or whatever. No one can tell you which option to pick. But if you are ready for the red pill, find others that have already been down the rabbit hole.
After you take the red pill things are going to be different. Directions may change and relationships may change as well. This can be painful. As in the movie, you will essentially use muscles you haven’t used before. You may find yourself doing things at times of the day that you weren’t even awake before. You may also find the new people come into your life and others leave. You may have to make sacrifices in time and maybe even money. Switching movies to Men in Black for a moment, Will Smith’s character asks “is it worth it” to which Tommy Lee Jones replies “Yes – if you’re strong enough”. Back here in the real world the same is true.
Ultimately the key to Neo’s success was not just his own belief but the belief of those around him. If you’ve taken the red pill, try not to do it alone. Find your Morpheus to show you the way. There are lots of people who can help. Maybe you will be like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz where you have several different characters that provide you what you need along the way. Everyone is going to have a different experience. Welcome the journey. Know that it will be difficult in some places and joyous in others.
You will probably have doubts but know you can drive across the country by only seeing about 200 yards. Research has shown that in most cases, if something can be conceived, it can be made real. That applies to things as well as dreams. I can’t tell you whether to take the red or the blue pill. Most people who picked the blue pill stopped reading this along time ago. What I can tell you is the red pill changes everything. You might not think you are ready for the future, but the future is ready for you. It’s time to choose!