‘The Matrix’ effect

Matrix background with the green symbols

Seen the film?

Or heard of it?

Well, of course.  Those iconic fight scenes, where Time itself slows down.

Many of us carry a memory of Time slowing down: of calm descending within, allowing us to judge the perfect moment, for the perfect move.

Here’s mine:

I am walking along a well-lit main road in a Navy city, late on a spring evening. My paces bounce; I’m on the way to see my boyfriend. I untie my long hair as I walk; I shake it loose. Someone stops me and asks the time: my watch says five past ten.

That someone then follows me into the darker street where my boyfriend lives. And he starts talking. I notice he doesn’t have short, Navy-style hair. He doesn’t have an identifiable accent. There’s no-one else about. Although I’ve begun to feel anxious, I keep him talking. Because while he’s talking he’s not doing anything stupid. And I’m nearly there anyway.

Then he knocks me off my feet and I begin to fall…

And now fear does something I’ve never known of before, to my time: it stretches it out for me, allowing me to collect my thoughts. As I fall, I think back through the day. Through each thing I have done, all the way back to the morning. Like re-reading a story, backwards. Effect, then cause. Why did this happen? How did I get there? How did I wake up? My boyfriend has a radio alarm. I woke up to the morning news bulletin. In the final item, a girl has been attacked, at some stables somewhere in the countryside, by a stranger, “but he was scared off by her screams.”

I hit the muddy tarmac with a shock. The phrase replays in my mind: ‘he was scared off by her screams’.

And now I realise I’m probably within earshot of my boyfriend’s house. I scream out his name; I give it all I’ve got. I hear it echo down the street.

Nobody comes.

But it doesn’t matter. By the time the scream dies away I am alone again. I pick up my bag and go on my way.

fMRI is a wonderful thing. It has, only recently, enabled us to discover how very real this effect is: not just enhanced memory, but a genuine increase in awareness – in in-the-moment-ness. Adrenaline’s effect is to speed up our bodies, causing a perceived slowing-down of everything else.

We are literally more present – outside the Matrix of our reconstructed Time.

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