Remember the Matrix? Of course you do. The Matrix, the original one, is a great movie with an extremely compelling and thought provoking script. The next couple were absolutely terrible (as is everything that Jada Pinkett Smith is involved in) but that first one, man. It’s good, and it’s more of a zippy, apt metaphor for sentient existence than almost anything else I’ve ever consumed intellectually.
There’s one part that particularly sticks out to me and it’s the scene where Morpheus offers Neo the two pills. The red pill, Morpheus explains, will cause Neo to wake up in his bed as though nothing has ever happened. The blue pill, on the other hand, will show him the world as it truly is, though once he sees it, he can never unsee it. He’ll never be able to return to his world of blissful ignorance once he sees what the blue pill illuminates.
Of course, Neo takes the blue pill and he quickly comes to learn that where he once thought he was strong, he is actually weak. His safe world is actually full of danger and terror. Food is no longer delicious. Sleep is fleeting and elusive and fraught with nightmares. Happiness exists only in a different world populated by ignorant fools who don’t know how hard and scary life really is and he, Neo, though discombobulated, weak and confused, is the person that must take command and push against all hope and logic towards a brighter tomorrow.
This is exactly what having kids is like. Kids are the real blue pill in the Matrix. I used to think that life existed pretty much between five pm and five am. I subsisted on beer and taco bell and slept late and was extremely happy and carefree. My neighborhood was safe, my wife was attentive and great, my body was resilient and strong, I had everything completely figured out. I never worried about anything and I felt very strongly that all the typical shitty trappings of adult life, the financial worries, the worries about physical deterioration, the marital spats, the concerns about how people perceive one another just straight up didn’t apply to my life. I had no frame of reference for relating to comedians (for example) because their tropes were all about things that were completely foreign to me. “I’m fat,” “I’m broke,” “I haven’t gotten a blowjob in six months!” Whatever! I’m not ever gonna be fat, I don’t need any money! I am positively SWIMMING in blowjobs! Everyone else’s life may suck balls, but somehow (despite the fact that I’m really not that spectacular of a human being and I haven’t worked particularly hard) mine is amazing. I have a cool job where I travel the world and I go out every night and sleep all day. It’s a perfect existence!
So, yeah. Then I took the blue pill and a few things became abundantly clear: the world is fucking dark and terrifying. Kids are so sweet and perfect and cute and the world, in stark contrast to them, is ugly, exploitive, dangerous, poisonous and generally horrific. The world actually exists from five AM to about ten PM. Anything that happens after ten is just drunken blur shit that, while it may end up with you punching someone in the face or getting laid or sealing some sort of deal over cocktails and blow, it’s not the real world. There’s no way to explain this until you see it from the other side. People tried to say this to me and I’d say shit like “well, it’s the real world to me, man.” HA! No fucking way. I was living in a dream, cocooned in blissful ignorance, but now I’m awake. I can’t unsee it. The world is terrifying, and even the things that I thought I’d bested, the bullets I thought I’d dodged are back and they’re scarier than ever because I’m not even driving the car this time.
For example, I got through my youth without ever fucking myself up on drugs. I mean, I definitely got drunk and hurt myself or smoked some weed and acted like an asshole or whatever, but I never wound up toothless in a meth house. I never sucked a dick for crack. I never pissed myself in an alleyway with a needle in my arm. I never sniffed glue or lost a septum to cocaine or went to jail or any of that shit. I beat the ‘temptation’ of drugs, right?
Well, not really. Now my kids exist, and what if all of a sudden they’re over at their best friends house taking oxycontins every day after school? I can’t stop that! I mean, I can encourage open dialogue and hopefully raise responsible people who won’t get into really dangerous situations, but at a certain point it’s kind of out of your hands as a parent. Drunk driving, stupid drugs, reckless mischief that’s seriously illegal. KNOCKING SOMEONE UP (or GETTING knocked up!) or getting herpes or HIV or any of that shit, this is shit I thought I was absolutely done worrying about, written off as ‘kid shit’ but NOOOOOOOOOOO fucking way, man. It’s all back and it’s worse than ever.
Now the world is a place where I need money, not for my needs but for the needs of people who depend on me. I eat over the fucking sink, and it’s leftovers of what my kids stubbornly refuse. Food is no longer delicious, sleep is fleeting and elusive an fraught with nightmares, I actually become too tired to want to even attempt to receive blowjobs and my wife is definitely too tired to just pass them out for no reason other than ‘hey, how bout a blowjob?’ That’s the shit of distant dreams and distant shores, bro.
And here’s the thing: I can NEVER unsee it. I can NEVER go back to how it was before. Even if I just left this stupid, shitty café I’m sitting in right now and went straight to the airport and flew to Uruguay and never came back, I’d be haunted by the dangers of the world, and my family that I abandoned (!!!!!) and that would be an even darker world than this one. Even if I became a zillionaire, there would still be a dark world around me. I’m not saying that my life is gloomy and depressing (although I know it sounds like I am), because kids bring a TON of joy into your life, just as Neo was ultimately stoked to be living in the real world battling computers and plugging his brain into that cord and seeing the world in code and all that, I’m exactly the same way in that…no. No. The analogy breaks down pretty badly at that point.
I’m fucking starving. Gotta run. Later, dildos.