In the 1999 science fiction-action film The Matrix, written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, Carrie-Anne Moss’s character “Trinity” is being chased by a deadly foe called an “agent.” Finding herself trapped on a rooftop with no obvious place left to run, she spies a window in a building across the street. Trinity takes a running start and dives 100 feet or more across the intervening space and through the glass. (Those familiar with the physics of the Matrix will not be bothered by this gymnastic absurdity.) Her jump further tumbles her down a flight of steps onto her back where she lands poised with 2 guns trained on the stairwell. Her fear tells her to keep the guns pointed at the spot where her pursuer will likely appear. Trinity’s reason screams the futility of a confrontation and tells her that her only chance of survival is to flee – now! Her reason speaks to her fear thusly: “Get up, Trinity. Get up!”
Owing to it being the first of the new year, the sound of well-meant resolutions fills the crisp air. Varieties of sofa dwellers rouse themselves to proclaim all manner of fresh beginnings. It seems that there is a small voice that will let neither sleeping dogs nor pudgy suburban dads lie. “Entropy is working” it whispers in a voice that sounds like that English teacher you had in the fifth grade. The tone is mixed amusement and concern. We, of the couch, would never rise for only the concerned voice, but the one that laughs cannot be easily tolerated. “Why, my dignity is at stake here!” I assert as I reach into my nearly empty bag of potato chips for the absolutely last chip I will ever, ever eat. I mean it.
It is probably a good thing that we don’t have to consciously think about all the little actions that make up our daily routines. We have the knowledge of all these mundane movements and turns, not in the front of our minds, but in our hands and feet. We really are creatures of habit but it is fortunate, even if aggravating, that few habit are impervious to changing conditions. Many perfectly simple sequences from my 20s, such as the carefree jumping down onto the ground from the bed of a pickup truck, are now carefully choreographed to minimized the chance of pain and injury. Pain aversion is a powerful modifier of action. I am thankful in my fairer moments for its lessons.
Time, once a lazy river, has turned into swift water. Although I still cannot hear the inevitable sound of that final waterfall, the roar of the rapids ahead remind me that to fail to arise soon will be to fail to rise at all. Life beckons all around me and there may still be much time for love and deeds. I am guaranteed nothing except that I never go alone. God, grant that the fairer moments are more frequent and strength to look in the mirror and say “get up Mark!”