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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Microdecisions. Be careful. You've been down that road. You know exactly where it ends.

 Something about this scene from The Matrix continues to resonate with me year after year. Without rehashing the whole plot, there's a scene where Neo waits in the rain until picked up by Trinity and friends. Threatened at gunpoint by the character called Switch, Neo opens the car door to leave.

Trinity tells Neo to wait. "You've been down that road before, Neo. You know exactly where it ends, and I know that's not where you want to be." In the middle of that dialogue, the camera shows us a rainy, forlorn dark city street. Neo decides to stay.
All hail the might of the microdecision. In a high-concept science fiction action flick, that decision seems awfully small, but it's actually very potent.
Neo knows that the reality he's been sold is wrong, somehow less than it should be. He doesn't know what Trinity knows, but he knows that she's offering hope. He also knows, perhaps with a hollow ache, that going back down that same old road is a very dead end.
Every day, we are faced with dozens of these microdecisions, but we rarely recognize what's at stake. For example, I worked a full day today, teaching middle schoolers a variety of subjects. Teaching is exhausting work. Fulfilling, but draining. When I came home, I made dinner, thinking that I need to get some writing done tonight. After eating, I was tired. I flopped down on my bed and started meandering on my phone. This scene from The Matrix kept coming to mind. I realized with crystalline clarity that I could easily call it a night. The bed is comfortable, the covers warm, and I have a pile of TBR books calling my name. But I know that road. I know exactly how it ends. I'll read for an hour, maybe two. Then I'll fall asleep, and the day will be gone... like tears in rain.
I bounced out of bed, and here I am at the keyboard. I'm opening up Scrivener to write. I believe it was Stephen King who said, "If God has given you something that you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?" Sometimes, we're lulled to sleep by the matrix and we don't even realize the decision we're making. It's greater than we think. Stay frosty, my friends. The thing that you do will not get done unless you do it.