Quite a number of folks on the internet have talked about “taking the red pill” which is a pop-culture reference from the movie The Matrix. This 1999 film written by the Wachowski Brothers (now sisters) is the story about “a computer hacker [who] learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers” as explained on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB). To be red-pilled is to learn a deeper nature of something beyond what conventional wisdom or group consensus promotes. It begins a journey for a person that, at times, can be fraught with an intense dichotomy. The question is how do you hold both views as valid depending on your perspective or is that even a viable option?
Thus begins a new series of posts- The Red Pill Journey. In today’s offering, we will look at a small sampling of the symbolism in the movie and how it pertains to our everyday aspects of life. Spoiler-Alert: I will be talking about the film. At some point, you may want to watch The Matrix or re-watch it, and see how much of the symbolism you catch. Our brain processes words and pictures differently with picture symbols having a more universal understanding and greater depth of meaning for us.
The unwitting hero of this film is Neo played by Keanu Reeves, a man of mixed heritage including Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese and English. Keanu was born in the Middle East in Lebanon. The name Neo is derived from the Greek word neos for new or recent. Neo wants to know what the Matrix is. The actor’s heritage implies he could be any of us, a kind of everyman, who becomes a savior of sorts. He is, therefore, the most recent incarnation of a seeker of truth. Are not we all seekers of some kind of revelation at pivotal points in our lives? Do we come to a place where the known is too safe and boring? Whether we act on our restless thoughts depends on how deeply and passionately we want to discover something more.
Morpheus is the mentor who helps to awaken the hero and believes Neo is The One that is prophesied to help free the people. In Greek mythology, Morpheus is the god of sleep and dreams. This role is played by Laurence Fishburne, an accomplished actor who is an attractive black man. Fishburne’s voice is hypnotic and eloquent when playing Morpheus. Though not preacher-like in his delivery, his way of captivating his audience is reminiscent of Martin Luther King when he speaks of having a dream. Who is the person or what is the device that awakens us from our slumber? Do we grasp at the opportunity to wake up and gain knowledge or do we hit the snooze button and remain unconscious?
The ultimate nemesis is the Matrix. It is what keeps the people imprisoned and controlled. It holds them back from their full potential. The interesting thing about this particular villain is that it is not real. It is a construct that is kept together by consensus. In the movie, it is shown as a machine that harvests the energy from the unconscious people in its grasp who are cradled in womb-like comfort. Where in our lives are we lulled into a state of somnambulance- sleep-walking through our various activities? It is no wonder we have the saying “I can do this with my eyes closed.” Is our energy being used by others that drains us of our creativity and motivation? Are we addicted to comfort and safety at the expense of our passion and soul-calling? To become cognizant of this potential choice is a frightening moment. Many shake themselves trying to convince their mind it was all a dream. Just go back to sleep, and all will be fine.
It is at this point when Neo is presented with an opportunity to gain knowledge of what he desires- the meaning of The Matrix. Morpheus delivers the ultimatum. In each hand, he shows Neo two translucent capsules- a red one and a blue one. If he takes the blue pill, Neo stays as he is and believes anything he wants to believe about his meeting with Morpheus and their conversation. It is well known in home décor circles that the favorite color to paint a bedroom is blue. In one of it varied shades, you will find a soothing coolness that inhibits wakefulness while inducing sleep. We describe depression or sadness as being blue. Music that invokes a raw emotional though resigned feeling is called the blues. Morpheus is offering Neo one last chance to hit the snooze button.
The red pill promises answers. It doesn’t guarantee the questioner will like what he finds but how many of us read the fine print? The intonation of Wonderland and Rabbit Hole indicates a circuitous route with counter-intuitive choices to make and potential plot-twists. This red-pill journey requires work on our part and a take-no-prisoners attitude. If we want to discover truth, we can’t be squeamish about how it shows up. We must also come to grips with the realization that we may never know the complete truth and be satisfied with a bit of mystery that is yet to be solved. History is written by the winners. The losers in any altercation must find other ways to communicate their side of the story.
Now that you have some background on this red-pill concept, we will tackle various topics that impact our lives that are not all they seem at surface level. With each subject, we will also look at how we can respond to this more in-depth knowledge. What good is knowing something if it leaves your emotions in a tangle? Finding meaning and purpose will be our aim. Using that which was meant to harm us and turning it into a beneficial action can bring healing to all. Stay tuned for the next installment of The Red Pill Journey where we wake-up to the truth about our family and local environment.
In my recently published memoir, Metaphysical Girl: How I Recovered My Mental Health, I was “red-pilled” with the fact a person could totally recover from a diagnosed mental illness. My family history and the medical establishment I contracted with did not seem to include this possibility as part of their reality. In the beginning I used traditional western medical treatments but went on to use eastern remedies and holistic therapies to become a healthy person.
The Matrix movie