Fate. “Do you believe in fate?” The old man was watching The Matrix a few nights ago when he stumbled on the question (again). It was kind-of a silly question for Morpheus to ask Neo, considering where they were – in the Matrix – where everyone lived in a virtual world created by AI to control humans. Humans being kept alive to provide the energy source for machines to ‘survive’ no longer seemed as dystopian to the old man now as it did the first time he watched the movie, some twenty years ago. With winter coming, what will Europe do without Russian gas? They are literally shutting down some of their industrial machines today.
“No,” Neo replied.
“Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.”
Believing in prophecies is the same as believing in fate, the old man reckoned. Believing in fate brings about a paradigm shift in one’s principles and philosophies about life. The concept of working hard to achieve one’s goals will feel perplexing if fate will after all dictate the outcome of one’s aspirations rather than brawn and brain. Although Neo is “The One” in the story, it later turned out he was not the only one. Spoiler alert. There were others before him! To the old man, that story line felt right. No one is really in control of life, we are given choices and not every choice we make will be right. Neo could not have freed humanity in his first go. The machines were too intelligent to be beaten by one man, even if he was ‘The One’. It was a movie that required the old man to concentrate on the plots and twists. As it turned out, even The Oracle, the kind and gentle woman that she was, was not human.
The right to choose was a birthright given by God. As a kid, the old man could not reconcile himself with that concept. How was it a real choice if any other choice was a sin punishable by eternal condemnation? In short, obey or else. The old man didn’t like that. Like Neo in the movie, he didn’t like the idea that he didn’t really have a choice. ‘Some will of course say we do have the freedom to choose, to obey or not, but to the old man, that was akin to only walking the one path that had been laid out, choosing any other path meant purgatory. At least Neo’s choice was real – he got to choose the blue pill or the red pill. Blue is safe, if he wanted to remain in the created world of bliss and ignorance where humans toil and live under centralised control. Neo chose the red pill, which has a ‘location device’ that will enable his cohorts to find him and unplug him from the Matrix.
“Why spurn ignorance and bliss, Neo?” the old man asked quietly.
The old man was coming down with the flu. “No, no, it’s not Covid,” he assured his Mrs without proof. When the body ached and the brain seemed frazzled and fried, calm and bliss would be a heavenly choice. The air turned almost solid. Breathing was difficult. His nostrils rained heavily all night and when he ran out of tissue paper, he borrowed his dog’s blanket to wipe the wetness from his nose. His eyes were turning reddish and bleary. He chose the orange pill from the Codral box. The orange pill. His mind drifted away from the fight scenes that Keanu Reeves would have spent many hours practising for. The actor sparred slowly rather than fight like a real kungfu master. His only move that was convincing was the way he copied Bruce Lee’s beckoning hand-wave to invite the opponent to attack. The orange pill had an immediate effect on the old man. The threatening fever had quickly evaporated and although the clock was ticking quickly towards midnight, he didn’t feel tired anymore. Maybe the afternoon caffeine had kicked in late but his mind was motoring away like a pilotless boat. Keanu Reeves was still pretending to be Bruce Lee. The movie was made in 1999. Ten years before Bitcoin was invented. Would it have been an orange pill instead if the movie was made today?
The old man didn’t know why they associated Bitcoin with orange colour. Maybe the creator with the pseudo name Satoshi Nakamoto liked the colour. The old man went down the rabbit hole that Bitcoin inevitably leads everyone interested in it into. It is not just about money, although the question will definitely come up. What is money? Once you know what money is, the journey down the hole will accelerate and more questions will be asked. Why is Bitcoin better than fiat currency? Why is it better than gold? Why is it better than commodities and real estate? Why is decentralised money safer? Can governments seize it? Why is it not yours if it’s not your keys? What is Metcalfe’s Law? What is frictionless payment? Why is Bitcoin a bank that all Central Banks are afraid of? Why is it incorruptible? How many people in the world are unbanked? “The saying ‘being orange-pilled’ means you begin to see the world through orange-tinted glasses,” the old man said to his Mrs. “You’ll want to find out about the WEF, why they say you’ll be happier when you have nothing,” he continued. “It will lead you to rethink macro-economic theories, and maybe choose Austrian economic theory over modern monetary theory.” “Why MMT leads to loose money printing and,” he said before being cut off. She didn’t want to know, such matters were too dry for her. She said retirees deserve to look at the beautiful things in life. “We earned it,” she said in her usual strong and loud voice. Bitcoin won’t be for her then, it will not offer a lens with a rose tint.
His thoughts about the orange pill vanished the second the old man saw them kissing. That’s kismet. Meeting and falling in love despite flying in and out of the ‘real’ world, the Matrix world, the metaverse within the Matrix, and the machine world – the physical world. Fancy that. What were the chances of Neo and Trinity (was she also another ‘The One’?) meeting and falling in love? They met and they kissed. That’s kismet.
The old man’s mind wandered off before the movie finished. He was thinking of his first kiss before quickly banishing the thought from his mind. It was innocent, it was impulsive. He wasn’t the one who initiated it. He knew who it was who gave him his first kiss but he could not remember when and where. “Ah, a forgettable kiss then,” he told himself. As if out of some unnecessary guilt, he quickly told himself to think of his first kiss with his Mrs instead. “Can you describe it?” I asked him, hoping to be able to write a moment in time that was captured by a romantic kiss between a boy and a girl who met in uni in 1979. There are so many ways to describe a kiss. I wanted to write about the gentle meeting of lips, the sensuous joining of body and soul through the art of love and the ecstasy of falling in love with ‘The One’. “Or was it an awkward kiss?” I pressed him to reply. I was afraid to have to write about the clumsy sound of teeth knocking or the messy dribble of an uncontrolled wet kiss and the entanglement of wayward tongues. Luckily, the old man remained silent and gave me a distant look instead, obviously transported to another world, his world when he was a 21-year-old.