Ever since the meaning behind the first Matrix was explained to me in my 10th grade psychology class, I became enthralled with the philosophy of life. It made me think hard about my existence as a confused adolescent. What do we exist for? Love? Justice? Fame? Power? Passion?
I was so intent with seeking the answer to that question that I spent 4 years in college studying philosophy. I devoured everything from ancient greek to postmodern to find an answer that I could be satisfied with.
No, I didn’t find the answer I wanted from these classes. I ended up cracking the code through my own life experiences. A decade-long battle with an autoimmune disease made me realize that health and thus life itself is not determined by some invisible force — be it Adam Smith’s economic theory or fate. Much of health and life itself is determined by choice. My choice.
Fast forward to today, I accidentally caught the ending of the Matrix Revolutions on TV. I felt a decade of my life nullified as I heard the ending dialogue between Agent Smith and Neo:
Agent Smith asked: “Why, Mr. Anderson, Why? Why do you persist?”
Neo calmly (and as usual, expressionlessly) replied, “Because I choose to.”
So all this while the movie that got me all riled up on the meaning of life did answer the damn question! I just needed to pay more attention instead of deriding it as an anticlimactic ending to a beautiful trilogy!
The irony of it all.
In defense of the years spent reading everything from Plato to Locke to Lacan in search for the answer… I probably wouldn’t be the person I am had I not embarked on the quest to find the meaning of life. I also probably wouldn’t have arrived at my eureka moment had I not gained some philosophical and psychological insight into human nature. And I definitely wouldn’t have realized the significance of Neo’s last line (and my stupidity) had I not slogged through all those piles of books.
Irony aside, I now have another burning quest at hand: How should I choose to live my life?
As a 24 year old, I know I’m not quite equipped to find the answer yet. But this time, instead of consulting a bunch of long-winded old men, I’m just going to live my life to find out.