Bullets & 160

There is an awesome scene in The Matrix known as, Neo stops the bullets. If you’ve never seen the movie, Neo, the hero of the story spends most of the movie— along with a group of others— running from “agents” who are trying to kill him. Neo is often protectively flanked by his cohorts as he pursues the truth of who he really is. And when the climactic scene of truth-finding happens, Neo is finally able to stop running, face his pursuers, put his palm up and stop a hail of bullets from their guns. Epic shit.

Released in 1999, the movie was slightly ahead of its time. It seemed to indicate a growing awakening and an increasing collective awareness among human beings. The search for Truth has been with us since the beginning of time. The collective awareness has taken a bit longer, I think. Of course there have always been isolated cases of individuals awakening from their eyes-wide-open sleepwalk through life. But the popular reception of a movie like The Matrix is an excellent indicator of humans waking up to the Truth of their respective potential. Hundreds of thousands of blogs and Youtube video point to our increased awareness. No longer do we wait for some higher authority to create, we are putting our ideas on display in droves.

For years I was lost in my own hail of bullets, bullets of a mixed variety. One particular set of bullets targeted my wallet. And let me tell you, I was a hapless sheep moving towards slaughter with not much fight in me during that time. All that mattered to me was surviving the moment or the day or the week, long enough to get tipsy or drunk or whatever, so I could blot out the overwhelming feelings until sleep came, and wake up only to start surviving all over again. And there were days when, instead of alcohol, I blotted my anxieties with chocolate or shopping or loud music or a Netflix rabbit hole— you name it, I found it and used it as an escape from reality.

While I was busy being overwhelmed by life and using bad habits to blot out my senses and escape, late fees were adding on, along with late interest, hidden charges, and reconnection fees when delayed payments caused shut offs. I didn’t care. I had a front to present, a persona to portray. I needed to look like I knew what I was doing, like I had my shit together, like I belonged in the world of adults. I may not have had all the accoutrements of The Joneses— none of their fancy cars, nice lawn furnishings or manicured landscape— but dammit, if I was going to live among them, my interloping and fraudulent life needed cover. Or so I thought.

Who knew all these hidden fees on bills, loans and car financing were such hot ticket items for companies. Predatory lending? Phfft! What the hell was that? Which high school class or college course prepared any of us for that? (Well, maybe teachers discuss it nowadays, but it sure wasn’t in the curriculum thirty years ago.) I was clueless. All I knew was, life is hard and if there were strikes against you beyond the obvious, hide all the rest of them. Don’t let anybody see you sweat.

Turns out, low self-worth is good for business. I was so busy feeling grateful for being allowed to rub elbows with the more “normal” and “worthy” looking members of the citizenry, I didn’t ask too many questions about their bill collecting practices. Well yes, of course, there were some things I challenged, some items I demanded explanations for. But I tended to put a cap on my curiosity. As confused as I often was, I held some questions back to keep from looking like an idiot. Because I thought if they detected my lack of knowledge, they would realize that I was nothing but a fraud, and they would laugh at me and pass the word along. Yeah, I put a lot of heft into the opinions of a bunch of hourly paid strangers. Sobriety and the aging process would eventually grind all that thinking to a halt, of course.

Today? All those money-grubbing institutions must fight me for every nickel and dime (don’t even get me started on dollars!). And I’m not just talking about the known predatory financial outfits. I’ve discovered that predatory practices are laced throughout traditional and reputable business companies too. Nowadays I read every bill closely. I can’t go back and recoup all of the thousands of dollars I lost during my drinking years and more recently, during my years of low self-worth feelings. But it’s thrilling to root out the occasional trickery and shenanigans in the establishment. And instead of feeling grateful to have dodged a few misfired bullets, I’m standing with my palm up and plucking bullets out of the air. Holla!

Meditation has changed everything for me. I will never be the same again. No more insecure woman, walking on the planet as if I owe anyone thanks for being here, as if I am an intruder in society. Everyone of us deserves to be here, free to be who we are in our own way. We each have the ability to tap into our own inner-strengths by tuning the world out. (Even if it’s only a mere ten minutes a day, I urge you to put meditation into your routine.)

On a last note, I went for my annual checkup yesterday. First let me say, I have an excellent family doctor who I’ve been seeing for eight years, and who I adore. We enjoy swapping family stories whenever we see each other. My doctor is quite affable and popular among all of his patients. But he’s not perfect. He is conditioned by a patriarchal society which holds restricting views about the ideal look of a woman’s body. I get it. However, narrow socialized thinking doesn’t contaminate my perspective the way it used to.

Here’s a fraction of our exchange yesterday:

Doctor:   You look great, sounds like you’re taking care of yourself. Still exercising, which is good.

Me:   Yup, I feel pretty good.

Doctor:   Your weight is a little high though. You’ve put on a few pounds. 160, I would just keep an eye on that.

Me:   Nope. My weight is fine. I’m good with that number.

Doctor:   I don’t know, you should watch that. 160 is kind of high.

Me:   Nope. I like it. I think it’s fine.

Then we laughed and moved on to a different topic.

Bullets. Palm up. I know who I am. The world does not get to define me any longer.