Tonight, we asked each other these questions, among others. We ask about the real us inside us. We asked if we've really lost ourselves or if we know exactly where we are, but are merely afraid to follow. We asked if it's possible that we really don’t know who we are, and if maybe the real us scares us to much to keep knowing. So many questions. But only one answer.
In “The Matrix,” we learned about the choice between the red pill and the blue pill. The red pill symbolizes the painful truth of reality and its uncertain ramifications, while the blue pill is the symbol for the blissful ignorance of illusion, distraction, and believing what we want to believe.
Let’s say for a moment that we want to understand ourselves better, that we want to get to the bottom of all our repetitive, self-deceptive, self-destructive, and self-denying behaviors. It takes courage to try and discover who we really are. It takes real determination and stamina. It takes being fed up with what we've grown accustomed to. Do you think that's why there are so many stories about heroes and heroines going on journeys to only return home in the end? They didn't set out to change, but they couldn't have have even started off without changing some to begin with (either by choice or by force of circumstance). And they couldn't have continued the journey without keeping on with the personal changes. And they certainly couldn't have gotten home without making the biggest changes of all. Changes in thinking, changes in how they interpret their perceptions of things and people and ideas, and changes in their feelings about everything else.
In the Matrix saga, the more Neo changes, the bigger his battles get, and so the more he has to grow. And all his growth is inward. His mind and heart create the physical changes represented in that imaginary world. Here are more words of dark wisdom from Morpheus, or was it the Keymaker?
In literature, and in our dreams, and in our deep discussions with those we care about, doors often symbolize our transition from one course to another, from one room within ourselves to another—or to a passageway. We construct our inner houses out of many compartments, many identities, many versions of us. Is only one of them the real one?
Another existentialist, Prague-born Franz Kafka, wrote a story about a gate. It's called "Before the Law." I sometimes talk about it with my clients because of the important archetypes and symbols it explores. There is a man from the country, uneducated in the sophisticated ways of government, and there is a public servant, a gatekeeper, who prevents our hero from making any progress in his pursuit of his goal. The man tries every trick he can think of, every bribe, for the remainder of his life. He want access to the law, to justice, to answers, to be heard. We don't really know what he wants. Do we know what we want? The story is about obstacles. If you've seen the Zen poster in my office, you know that "The obstacle is the path." Such a powerful truth. If you find it discouraging, remind yourself that all the best lessons come after mistakes. Just as the best version of you is the result of many trials and many errors.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
translation by Coleman Barks