Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Myth of The One

RevWik has been on hiatus for a while.  I've been on one of those metaphoric motorcycle trips into the back country, ridiing the blue highways of my soul trying to figure a few things out.  It's good, every now and then, to cut out, live off jerky and biscuits, and sleep out under the stars.

But I'm back again, and I've got a lot of things on my mind, so I should be writing up a storm.  My plan is to get back to writing regularly -- Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I'm also planning on going back to writing on whatever topic is on my mind. I'd gotten rather focused for a while on prayer and, while that's important to me, there are other things I've been musing about, too.

Like, for instance, the myth of The One.  The photo is, for anyone who hasn't seen one of the Wachowski brother's Matrix films, Keanu Reeves as Neo.  I'll be using this movie as my reference point, but I could just as well be using any of a hundred other films, books, comic books, or other stories which have essentially the same plot.

Neo, for those who don't know, is an average guy who is told that he may be "The One," a person of mythic ability and importance.  The film chronicles his attempts to discover if he is, indeed, The One.  Some people believe that he is; others doubt it.  At times he, himself, grows to believe it, and there are certainly experiences he has along the way which would give him reason to.  And yet, he also faces obstactles and challenges that try his growing conviction, which cause him to doubt.

Whether he is or not we'll leave up in the air -- I don't want to spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it.  (But if you've ever watched any American TV or movies or read a comic book in your life, then you already know the answer.)  What matters to me is that I grew up on this myth.  I took it in with the air I breathed and the food I ate.  It became a part of me. 

I wonder how many other people this is true of?  Raised on a diet of Kwai Chang Kane and Al Monday, Steve RogersJohnny Storm, and Hal Jordan, not to mention Jesus and Buddha, the myth of The One -- the Special One, the Chosen One -- has deep roots in many of us.  And I wonder how many, like me, have uncounsciously wondered -- let's be honest -- if in some way, in some place in our lives, we were The One?  As a husband, am I The One?  As a preacher and a minister?  A father?  A writer? Will it be my archery?  My juggling?  Will something in my life single me out and designate me as special, unique, the One that people have been waiting for?  Am I, The One?

So, now, back to the myth and the movie.  I've gotten to wondering -- what if Neo isn't The One?  I know, it'd blow the whole ending of the movie and certainly mess up the trilogy, but what would it mean for him personally?  How important is it, really, to be The One?  Morpheus and Trinity are both amazing fighters.  Astonishing, really.  Would it be so bad to be "only" as good as they are?  Even Mouse is kind of cool in his own way.  Why is it so important to be The One?

Wouldn't it have been cool if the first movie had ended with Neo realizing that he was The One.  After all, storytelling conventions must be obeyed at some level.  But what if, in the second or third, he realized that he wasn't The One after all -- that there was no One.  Or, rather, that each of us is The One.  What if he helped to awken The One in Morpheus and Trinity and Niobe and all of the others, and together they dismantled the matrix?

In the Christian scriptures Jesus is remembered as telling his disciples that they will "do what I have been doing [and] will do even greater things than these . . ."  (John 14:12)  Yet through the centuries the myth has held that Jesus was The One and everyone else was (and is) a mere shadow.  What if we'd been raised on that other story?  Not the one -- the many?

In Gassho,