The Matrix and I

I recently re- watched the The Matrix series, probably for the 21st time.

I was in in standard eight (eighth grade) when the first movie came out. Apart from being an instant cult- classic, I personally believe it is also one of the best sci- fi movies ever made- in many ways. It remember exactly which class I was in at the time because back in the day, it was the first time I got permission from my ‘stickler- for- discipline and- obedience’ mum to go and watch a movie with my friends. It was nothing short of a modern miracle- getting permission I mean!

By grade 8, I was already complicated in the head. I know, because I read my journals from those days. I have destroyed them all now, but I know. I journaled almost everyday from age 9 through 16 and had a diary for each year. Mostly inane pre- teen angst and teenage sop stories, but surprisingly I was also reading Tolstoy at 12, knew who Marcus Aurelius was at 15 or so and was exploring concepts of nihilism by 16. I also had occasional long inner monologues, which reading as an adult seemed remarkably profound and complex. All this, in innocent times, before the internet became accessible to regular Indian folks like us.

And I remember being deeply affected by the premise of the movie.

Maybe the Wachowski brothers were selling the truth in the name of entertainment. It would then make sense no? The world as we perceive it being a grand illusion thought out by machines. Us, truly having no control over our destinies. Why everything seems so puerile and futile most times, at least to some of us. It made sense when Agent Smith says that humans cannot live in a perfect world. We are not made for it. We, in fact seem to thrive in our rotten ways, choked streets, reeking cities- a defective, little world rife with conflict, greed and misery. It is as he says humanity’s greatest strength and our infinite flaw. We are so, and therefore we are.

I chose to chase the paths that were drawn out for me. My twenties were sacrificed at the alter of convention and society. Unknowingly though, this current decade of my life has been a journey of freeing my mind. Peeling back the layers, one by infinitesimal one. Nobody offered me the choice of the green or red pill- knowing the consequences, I am not even sure which one I would choose. Decisions in life, even the regular pizza or burger ones, often cause me deep anxiety and decision paralysis consumes me.

I digress, like always, coming back to freeing my mind. The first step has been finally opening my eyes. Unplugging myself. We have all been programmed to be a certain way, to think in a particular manner, to conform to pre- set standards. Failing any, we are deemed unfit. Therefore opening my eyes has made me realise that it is all purposeless in the sense, no one is perfect. Nothing is as it should be. We are all living an untrue version of our lives anyway. Showing a side of ourselves and our lives that we believe the world wants to see or should see. Priding ourselves on our fake achievements. We rush to post things, ridiculous little tid- bits from our lives which are inconsequential to anybody seeing it. Who cares if I finish some random course or lose 5 kilos in lockdown anyways. While bodies burn all around us.

Freeing myself to want that validation of my existence is obviously step one.

Realising everything is a glitch in the system- a death, an illness, a failure, is important. That I could not have altered the epilogue no matter how much I strived. In a way, things are programmed the way they are. There are very few variables, if at all, that I can truly control. If I woke up today and actually did the run that I meant to do, or did not, did I decide that? What is determined by me, truly?

Does this mean, being ‘free’ from the program of life is the solution. Can we stop caring and not attempting to ‘live’? No. This program doesn’t allow for such bugs. We can conform and occasionally reap some rewards that the program may deem we are worthy of, or be randomly assigned as it deems fit- I don’t know which. Or we may attempt to ‘free’ ourselves and not care- and then be at perpetual war, live a rank, dismal life of the homeless, degenerate, inconsiderate anti- social or an outcast.

See, the choices aren’t really choices at all. The blue pill. The red pill. DO they even exist?

Till next time,

J.

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