By Lij Teodrose Fikremariam
Source: Ghion Journal
The Matrix is one of my favorite movies of all times. Though there are many memorable scenes, there is one part in particular that has always stuck out in my mind. When Neo went to go visit the Oracle, he had a brief exchange with a little boy who was magically bending a spoon with his mind. Fascinated by the phenomenon that was taking place before him, Neo sat down next to the boy in awe. The child then imparted the following advice to Neo:
“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself…”
I knew the first insistence I heard the little boy say “there is no spoon” that the statement was incredibly powerful. Yet, as much as I tried, I could not unlock the riddle and truly understand how profound that exchange was. Each time I watched the Matrix, I could not figure what the boy was telling Neo and what lesson he was imparting to “the one”.
Yesterday, as I was sharing a conversation with a friend, it finally hit me! Of course there is no spoon! The spoon, you see, is a parable of the predicaments we put ourselves through and the endless ways we twist ourselves into knots trying to figure out what to do. My econ professor at Hopkins described this process of recrimination best when he said “don’t get caught up in paralysis by analysis”.
Doubt is the kryptonite of success; instead of throwing caution to the wind and chasing our dreams, we let fear and what ifs keep us moored to unhappiness. The spoon is overthinking instead of acting, inspecting instead of doing and hesitating instead of jumping in. The spoon is fear of failure, the anxiety of the unknown and the worry about tomorrow while losing out in present moments.
It was not always like this; when we were children, we acted without calculating for every outcome. We did not hedge our bets, we lived in the moment and dealt with the consequences as they arrived. Growing up meant leaving the ways of a child behind and entering into adulthood. Gone are whims and in come evaluations of pros and cons before acting. Inhibition set in and before we know it, we lose the innocence of our youth. In a blink of an eye, we went from carefree to conditioned as years of education program us to be pegs in society’s’ circle.
There is a reason why the child was able to bend the spoon and had to be the one who taught the adult how to reach within to…