LESSONS FROM NEO.

There is a part in The Matrix where the protagonist, Neo, played by the always awesome Keanu Reeves, goes to see a woman they call The Oracle, so she could tell him his fate. That is what The Oracle does, she tells people their fate. Neo reluctantly accepts to go see The Oracle because he doesn’t believe in fate. He tells his mentor, Morpheus, that if fate existed, that would mean he isn’t in control of his life. Therefore, the trip to The Oracle, was a waste of time. However, the best part is when Neo enters the kitchen where The Oracle is baking cookies. He greets her, and he stands in a corner. Then, she tells him:

“I’d ask you to sit down, but you’re not going to anyway. And don’t worry about the vase.”

“What vase?”, he says as he is turning in all directions and looking to locate the vase. His movements knock a vase (that vase!) which was next to him. Gravity pulls it to the ground and the vase breaks into pieces.

Neo: I’m sorry…

Oracle: I said don’t worry about it. I’ll get one of my kids to fix it.

Neo: How did you know? , asks a perplexed Neo.

Oracle: Oohh, what’s really going to bake your noodle later is, would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything?

Morpheus and Neo went to The Oracle because Morpheus believes Neo is the one, the person who will save humanity and help them triumph in their fight against the machines. It is an awesome movie but let’s get back to our premise.

So, The Oracle tells Neo he isn’t the one. He will not save humanity from the machines despite what his mentor, Morpheus, has told him with an unshakable assurance. He leaves almost certain he isn’t the savior. How could he be? He hasn’t done anything worthy; he doubts himself and his training is quite ordinary with small and irregular glimpses of great potential. He is scared, he is utterly lost in this new world and most importantly, the all-knowing Oracle told him he isn’t the one, categorically.

Yet despite doubting himself during ¾ of the movie, it is revealed he is The One. Moreover, it took me 4 times to catch the word “Neo” is an anagram of the word “One”. The Oracle told him he wasn’t yet, it turns out, he is. Humanity has a savior and it is Neo. When his mentor, Morpheus, is kidnapped, he decides to go save him, and against all odds, he succeeds. Good for him!

Nevertheless, as awesome as the movie is, I want to go back to that damn vase. Would Neo have broken that vase if The Oracle hadn’t mentioned it? Or would he have stood there, with his arms crossed, smelling the sweet aroma of the cookies coming out of the Oracle’s oven? No one knows if he would have even noticed the damn vase. Was that destiny, fate? What happened there? That scene has messed with my mind for 20 years now, because the Matrix is officially an old movie and I am even older. So, did The Oracle use reverse psychology on Neo? She told him unequivocally he wasn’t the one. Yet, once again, he was.

I wonder…What if I told you that you weren’t worthy of something, or that you couldn’t do something? I wonder…What would you do? You have two options: you would try to prove me wrong or you would accept your “fate” and wouldn’t do anything. Either you are not worthy, or you are. However, how can one find out which choice is the right one? The only way is by doing something. The usual way is by trying to do the very act you were told you are not able to do.

Pride kicks in sometimes. If someone called you names, you would certainly react. You wouldn’t let someone insult you, that is certain in most cases. You would show if you are combative or passive and I hope you are the former because, the latter isn’t much of a quality to carry in your bones. Or you wouldn’t care what I think and not react, which would make you look passive. One thing I know is that people who really and truly don’t care about other people’s opinions, they rarely react, and they look passive because they sincerely don’t care. They can shrug your insult off and smile.

When I was 12, my dad decided, one day, out of the blue, to ask me the capitals of countries, just for fun. He did so everyday and I had no answer. I thought he was showing off and maybe he was subliminally telling me I was stupid or something, I was confused. I knew the man wasn’t into humiliation. So, one day, I decided to memorize as many damn capitals as I could, to show him he wasn’t smarter, at least on that topic. Not only did I answer his question a few days later but I asked him to tell me the capital of New Zealand. Thank to all the Gods, he didn’t know it, so I won. He had provoked my curiosity, he had provoked my self esteem, he wanted to make sure I was sharp, that I was curious, that I would do something about losing 7 times in a row! Would I have learned the capitals if it weren’t for him? Probably not. There is Google today, I am becoming obsolete in the “naming of capitals” game. Freaking Google!

The Oracle tells Neo that, sadly, he isn’t The One. However, when comes the time to save humanity, he decides he is The One, he decides to fight impossible odds to save humanity. He does this out of pure irrational belief in himself. He was told by The Oracle, the woman that is never wrong about that kind of stuff, that he isn’t the One, he is just another guy, a regular guy, and if push comes to shove, he won’t be able to do more than any other guy would. Think about it. Everything was stacked against him, his confidence was shaken, everything around him told him he couldn’t do something, and he did it anyway. He did so because he believed in himself at the most crucial moment: the darkest and hardest moment, which is quite unusual and extraordinary.

The Matrix is a movie but sometimes life imitates art and vice versa. There comes a moment when we have our backs against the wall, and we don’t know what to do. Sometimes, we even lose confidence in ourselves. Sometimes, we think we are not worthy. I thought, nay believed for a long time that my texts weren’t worthy, that I wasn’t worthy. I thought I couldn’t be a writer. Today I am. Granted, I am not a published writer. I don’t have any book deals, I don’t have thousands of followers, but I write, and I have decided that writing makes me a writer. This exercise has brought me fulfillment and joy. I get better everyday. I write and I keep writing.

To believe in oneself is a never-ending exercise. Oh, you know, and I know that your confidence can be shaken to its very core and you can see its foundation obliterated. We just do not confess our self doubt and we sure as hell will never admit it publicly. Yet, it happens. At times, believing in oneself feels irrational, it feels weird and it is scary. However, in this life, the more we do something, the more self doubt goes away and it turns into confidence.

As cliché as it sounds, if we really apply ourselves, if we take one step at a time, we subliminally make our own destiny or fate, if you will. Sometimes, being doubted can be a trigger or the ignition we look for to get the engine going.

It took me not knowing the capitals and looking a bit ignorant to push me towards knowledge. I did start learning out of pride and arrogance, I will admit to that. People will doubt you. They might even drop their superiority complex on you, to make you feel inferior or worthless. That is on them. That is who they are. Nonetheless, when they do that, it is the golden occasion to find out who you are. We tend to do that out of vengeance but that is wrong. We must do it because we want to find out who we really are, because we want to challenge ourselves, because we want to improve, because we see a way of learning something new. Moreover, you might start learning out of vengeance and humiliation, but knowledge, in itself, is the ultimate revenge.

Circumstances might push you towards a direction you weren’t expecting. Fate and destiny might exist. I don’t believe they do. I believe we live in a three-dimensional universe where randomness and chaos reign supreme. Yet, out of chaos and randomness, we might find purpose. Neo found his. I found mine. I hope everyone can find theirs.

If you do something consistently, doubt turns into confidence; incompetence turns into skill. So, just like The Oracle, any moment of doubt could turn into an opportunity to do something good, great or just something, which is always better than doing nothing.

Just one man’s opinion.

Now smile and go on with your day.

Freeman. B

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