There’s a well-referenced scene in The Matrix where the film’s chief protagonist, Neo, is offered a singular life-altering choice between consuming a blue or red pill. Swallow the blue pill and life continues on its predictable and uneventful way, swallow the red and “you stay in wonderland” and see “just how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
It’s an iconic crossroads moment where life either continues as is or realities veil is yanked back and life is inextricably altered. The film’s narrative hinges on this allegorical instance where the character is either defined by his desire for safety and sameness or adventure and growth. One option will mark him out as a hero; the other relegates him as an extra in someone else’s story.
The continuing popularity of the scene lies in it striking at a tender yet familiar nerve. How many of us wake up each morning only to self-medicate with the same blue pill, day after day, year upon year with the same regular monotony? Simultaneously the red pill sits within reach offering us a separate yet unknown alternative. No need for charismatic men in black trench coats, life throws this pivotal opportunity at you all the time. It’s happening right now!
However you choose to describe it, the promise of the red pill is adventure, growth and transformation. The assurance of the blue is regularity, routine and blissful ignorance. In this pregnant silence let me ask, what’s your poison? And choosing not to choose is still a choice.
My passion is in the realm of physical health and body transformation but in reality it’s so much more than this. This is where I see the potential choice of the blue or red pill most explicitly laid bare. Your body is the most intimate and precious commodity you possess. It offers the potential for self-directed positive change that is more personal and powerful than anything else you could envision.
To clarify, self-directed body transformation is not about aspiring to fake Instagram narcissism nor is it found in modest changes that only impress Light and Easy pundits. The fundamental thing that makes physical change positively transformative is that you set high-level aspirations that are meaningful to YOU.
Contextually, I recently sat across the table from a client who had lost just over 12kg of body fat in 10 weeks. They’d also gained an impressive amount of muscle but there were other differences as well. Where their face was puffy and bloated before it had become angular, eyes once dull had become clear and white. There was an energy and enthusiasm about them that had been dormant when we first met. Being suitably impressed with the results I asked, “If I’d have offered you a pill 10 weeks ago that could have done all this would you have taken it? And, what would have paid for it?”
In reality there was a moment ten weeks ago where they had to make that choice. Taking the blue pill – and everything would have remained the same, taking the red pill – and they got to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes. The analogy is practically useful in describing the apprehension most people experience when deciding to make a change. Even if you’re unhappy with the way things are at least it’s feels safe and familiar. When you swallow the red pill those guarantees disappear but it may take you some place better. In fact it almost always does.
Pat swallowed the red pill! Always swallow the red pill!