Few events in life can profoundly change you as a person. When they happen, you feel it. The earth shifts, and they transform the way that you perceive life.
I expected my life to change after getting married, having my first child, and holding my grandmother’s hand as she passed away.
However, I never considered that an action film could have the same earth-shaking effect on me.
It has been nearly twenty years since The Matrix was released. Like many other Matrix fans, I too have a ‘first-time’ story.
Glaring at the screen of my new desktop computer, which now included a DVD player, my partner (now husband) and I huddled on the floor of my bedroom with our first rented Blockbuster DVD. We were told that the film “had to be watched on DVD” because of its never-before-seen special effects. I put the disc into the player and waited to be blown away.
Having no prior knowledge of the film, our virgin eyes witnessed actors climbing walls and realistically defying gravity in slow motion jumps. We saw sprays of bullets frozen in time then suddenly drop. I watched the film over and over again to allow my brain the time to catch up.
The Matrix snatched us from our comfortable couches and catapulted us into a world of action like never before. Through its inventive special effects, highly choreographed fight scenes, and surreal storyline, it did more than just transport us into a futuristic, dystopian, sci-fi world for 2 hours and 16 minutes.
For some of us, it profoundly shifted our sense of reality and brought into question the very nature of our existence.
They say if a film is to be a cult classic, it must have a following: a group of die-hard fans who identify with, or react to the film in the same way. While I hoped to be ‘blown away’ the first time I watched The Matrix, I really did not expect the effect that it had on me.
The best way I can describe it today, is to say that I was initiated.
My search for freedom outside The Matrix
For 15 years, I endeavored to live a conscious life outside of the matrix.
Neo was my hero.
With yearly Matrix ‘fixes’, I jumped from one adventure to the next challenging myself to live as ‘free as possible’.
I began meditating, became a Reiki Master, studied Buddhism, started a fair trade business, before leaving my high paying but soul-destroying corporate IT job, to completely devote myself to the cause.
Ten years later, I sold my business, my house, most of my possessions, and moved to another country, where I wrote a book about finding courage. A few days after launching my book, my mother unexpectedly died.
Somehow I lost my purpose.
But what I didn’t understand was: How could I lose something I wasn’t aware that I had?
I was living freely outside of the matrix, fully awake…or so I thought.
After a year with my faced pressed against the damp cold pit of despair, I decided to get help. I worked with a life coach and uncovered many deep wounds. Shortly after, I began training with Animas as a Transformational coach. Yet, I still felt something was missing.
Something just didn’t feel right.
If I was fully awake outside the matrix, why didn’t I feel free?
If I was living a conscious life, how was it possible to make unconscious decisions?
Attending a workshop for new coaches to “Jumpstart Your Business” the instructor challenged us to come up with a short pitch for our budding coaching practices. With nothing to lose, I said “I help people crazy enough to take the red pill.”
That’s when it all began to make sense.
The woman in the red dress
Since my initiation into The Matrix world, my primary focus was to ‘get unplugged’.
However, by fixing my gaze on getting ‘unplugged’, it prevented me from seeing the bigger picture and further questioning.
What was I trying to get ‘unplugged’ from?
Did I really believe that we were living in one big computer-generated simulation, as the Wachowski brothers, now sisters, portrayed in the film?
Did I believe Elon Musk’s claim that “we are living in a simulation created by our future selves”?
While those ideas seemed far-fetched to me, what was not, was the idea that there is ‘a matrix’.
I began to think of the matrix, not as singular consciousness controlling our lives, but instead, as a fluid composite, formed of thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, emotions, values, judgements, social conditioning, other people, places, and, of course, fears—essentially, all of the things that can prevent us from living a conscious life.
I also began to see that the matrix wasn’t created by someone else, it was created by us. And, is made up of all the things that make us individuals.
Sometimes these ‘things’ help us. But when they do not, they can limit our growth, effectually becoming a self-made matrix
In my search to be ‘free from the matrix’, I never stopped to ask myself: Is it possible to be ‘free from ourselves’?
Decoding The Matrix
In the weeks following the Jumpstart workshop, where I spurted out “I help people crazy enough to take the red pill”, I noticed that my focus began to shift.
Being fixated on ‘getting out of the matrix’, which may or may not be possible, I failed to see the power behind the use of ‘The Construct’.
For those of you who may not have seen the film, ‘The Construct’ is a computer simulated environment outside of the matrix.
Having the same basic rules of the matrix, The Construct may consist of different programs. However, its sole purpose is to allow those living outside of the matrix to safely explore life within it.
Consider the famous fight scene between Neo and Morpheus. The Construct does more than teach Neo how to fight. It also gives Morpheus the opportunity to challenge Neo’s beliefs:
“Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? You think that’s air you’re breathing now”
Here the power of The Construct is revealed as a safe place to explore our beliefs, thoughts, expectations, judgements, and fears!
Perhaps the true genius behind The Matrix film is teaching us how to create our own ‘constructs’?
With an endless supply of ‘programmes’ to choose from, a construct can be any situation that allows us to step out of our daily lives in order to reexamine ourselves?
Perhaps ‘a construct’ is:
Going on a walk in nature to calm our busy minds?
Quiet meditation, providing us the opportunity to find meaning or become more mindful?
Consciously going into our ‘comfort zones’, where our needs are met and we feel safe, in order to create, inspire, and develop fresh ideas?
A coaching session, a safe place to explore our purpose, passion, and potential paths forward?
So how do we create these constructs for ourselves?
By taking the red pill, of course, as The Construct can only be accessed by those outside the matrix.
But that is your choice.
Until ‘someone’ hits the power button on the big computer-generated simulation, we may never know if the Matrix really does exist. Sorry Elon!
For me, I’ll stick with Occam and his razor, and say that, perhaps the matrix is simply a metaphor for life.
So while, like Alice, we make our way through this Wonderland, we may never be free from it.
However, we can build constructs to help us live in it.
And, if we’re lucky, we’ll learn how to climb walls, stop bullets, and bend spoons along the way!
Are you ready to take the red pill?