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My brother dragged me to the theatre to watch the movie. I wasn’t planning to go see the Matrix myself because the only thing I knew about matrices was that I thought they were somehow associated with math and math movies just aren’t my thing.”-Brad

OLD MAN NEO

In the corner store, I glanced over at the chip rack as I headed for the checkout. I spotted the sight of something beyond the flavours of potato chips through the stores big front window.  It was just a glimpse that my eye caught so the image froze on my brain more like a photo than a movie. Down the road in the distance, next to the street was in old man in a pose very reminiscent of a scene from the 1999 movie, The Matrix. Like Neo, on a rooftop avoiding gunfire from a helicopter’s mounted machine gun, leaning back at his knees with arms outstretch, this old man seemed to be defying the pull of gravity suspended over frozen asphalt.

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The guy at the cash register, reaching out for my items to run under the scanner looked puzzled when I stopped just out of reach, shook my head in disbelief and took two steps back to look out the window again. I wanted to confirm that I had seen what I just saw.

The old man had regained an upright position but was now stumbling forward. His oversize winter boots tripping in a pothole of snow and ice. He pitched forward and after a valiant attempt to stay on his feet, slipped.

I felt sorry for the old man but there was nothing I could do to help as I watched him hit the ground on his hands and knees. He got back to his feet and with his big winter mitts brushed the snow off his pants. I moved to the waiting cashier and paid for my purchase.

Just as I headed towards the store’s exit, the door opened ahead of me and that very same old man stepped inside from the winter’s cold. He looked at me, squinting his eyes as if trying to remember if he knew me or not. Unable to leave until he moved away from the door and unable to ignore him since he was looking at me intently, I smiled and said, “It looked like you were having a little bit of trouble with the ice.”

He looked down at his oversized winter boots with a grimace on his weathered face, and muttered loudly, “Stupid!” I didn’t know if he was referring to himself or the ice. Then he added, “It doesn’t help being half blind…” What he was about to say next I have no idea as he suddenly stopped himself. I began to feel a little bad about bringing up the whole thing.

He suddenly stood up tall and a huge smile spread over his face smoothing every wrinkle. He looked directly at me and  the creases at the corner of his milky eyes crinkled as he laughed, making the faded blue of his dull irises twinkle. “But I haven’t done it since!” He reached out and patted my arm. “I haven’t fallen since the last time I did.” Yes, he may have fallen earlier, but he was very proud to say he had stayed up on his feet since then. I laughed with him saying that what he just said was very true.

I realized then, the next time that I fall flat on my face, end up on my backside, make a silly mistake or do something utterly stupid, I want my attitude to be the same as that old man’s. Instead of spending time beating myself up, blaming the situation on the circumstances around me, or just feeling useless, embarrassed or stupid, I want to be able to stand back on my feet, smile and say, “Yes, I messed up.”

“But, I haven’t done it since.”

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6 thoughts on “Thought 105: Old Man Neo

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