welcome to the real world

Trinity: Please just listen. I know why you’re here. I know what you’ve been doing… why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer. You’re looking for him. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when I found him, he told me I wasn’t really looking for him. I was looking for an answer. It’s the question that drives us. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question, reader, just as I did.

What is the secret to financial freedom?

If you are deeply in debt, or spending more than you earn to acquire stuff, you are living in a world that is less than what it could be. Corporations and consumer society have constructed an elaborate world that is filled with shiny things and toys and useless items. In this  world, you are told that true happiness comes with the acquisition of things, that your attention should be focused on today, that tomorrow will take care of itself. In this Matrix, it’s always Black Friday and it’s always the Presidents’ Day Sale.

Morpheus: What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

But just maybe, while making a call on your iPhone, driving your leased car wearing your latest fall fashions on your way to the mall on your one day off from your crushing commute and your boring job, you had a sudden thought. Maybe the world isn’t supposed to be like this. Maybe we weren’t all meant to be shopping units in the corporate world’s vast consumer Matrix. Maybe our happiness doesn’t come from owning CDs, or watching American Idol, or buying a Wii. Maybe there is another world – the real world – where your work and your life are one and the same because you love them both, where you can do what you want, when you want, where you have time to give to people and experiences, not just to commuting and working for a faceless employer. No, it’s not possible. Your neighbors look like they are doing fine, and they have lots of stuff, right? This is how it has to be. This is how it has always been.

Morpheus: I’m trying to free your mind. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

Maybe you’ve started reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad or Dave Ramsey or Your Money or Your Life. Other people are trying to show you the way out. The trouble is, you set down the book and remember “I need a new belt! I want to see “Avatar” 8 times!” Only you will start the journey out of the Matrix, and it will be difficult – there will be roadblocks everywhere: pricey restaurants, bigger homes, newer cars, fancier cell phones. The Matrix will do everything it can to keep you, because its existence depends on your continued function as a shopping unit. Without shopping units to generate power, the consumer Matrix will weaken. You have to stop, today. Put down your credit card. Stay away from the store. Cook a meal at home. Turn off the TV.  Try to earn income a different way.

Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheus: You’ve never used them before.

When you finally leave the consumer world, you’ll notice that your old behavior is now awful to consider.
You’ll see credit card debt, still-functioning cell phones gathering dust in cabinet drawers, barely-worn clothes in the back of the closet, half-empty rooms never used in your house. Your eyes will hurt looking at all of this STUFF that you valued so much, because you never really SAW before.

Morpheus: Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?

The dream is the 9-to-5 world. The dream is a 3000 square foot home for a family of 4. The dream is a $400 per month car lease. The dream is an iPhone, a Wii, digital cable, the latest fashions. And the dream is a nightmare. You have to wake from that dream and realize that in the real world there is VERY little you need other than shelter, food, friends, family and basic clothing and entertainment. In the dream you have no time – but you can have all the time in the (real) world if you just wake up.

Neo: I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell how it’s going to begin. I’m going to hang up this phone, and then show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules or controls, borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.

(with many thanks to The Matrix)

Originally posted back in 2007 or so – just thought I would run it for those who haven’t read it before.  I know the Matrix references are already very dated, but hopefully everyone’s seen it.

One Reply to “welcome to the real world”

  1. Great post! Getting caught up on my RSS reading and saw this. Huge fan of the Matrix (unfortunately not of the rest of the triology…). Great analogy though.

    We’ve been in the financial “zionist” camp for a while — debt free except for the mortgage, driving older cars, etc.

    We’re considering moving to another city and having to factor in great schools, bigger home, planning for kids, etc. I can’t help but think we’re slowly considering allowing ourselves to be plugged back in to the Matrix.

    Got my wheels turning Steve… appreciate it.

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