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Perhaps the single most unnerving thing about taking your first doses of the red pill comes from seeing just how much of what you thought you knew, is completely wrong. No matter the age at which the Truth Hammer* smashes into your forehead, and you find yourself stumbling about, dazed and confused, with the lies you've been told oozing painfully from your ears and nose and eyes, you'll find yourself looking back on the road of your life wondering how the hell you spent so long being so wrong.
And then you turn and look at the road ahead. And maybe you feel a cold knot of despair in your stomach, because you simply cannot see an end to that road.
You feel tempted to turn around and run back to the lies you were taught all your life. You think that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to go into debt to finance an unsustainable lifestyle, to continue working for the next thirty years in a job that you hate because you can't afford to quit, to defer your hopes and dreams until that promotion finally comes along and you can inch your way agonisingly up the corporate ladder, smeared as it is with faeces and dirt and blood and treachery. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to continue selling out your principles in order to get that promotion that's been dangled in front of you for the last five years, but has never actually been given. That's what everyone else is doing, after all.
You look at your weekly grocery bill and at the rising cost of meat and produce and think that maybe it would be easier just to continue eating that horrible tasteless hunger-inducing low-fat diet you've been taught all your life will keep you healthy and heart-attack-free. That's what everyone else is doing, after all.
You think that maybe it would be easier if you just continue buying that cute girl at the bar her drinks, keep complimenting her about her looks, keep fawning over every word she says. So what if you're handing her your balls in a bag? Maybe, just maybe, you'll get laid- and maybe that might turn into commitment six months down the line, since you told her up front that you're looking for your soulmate! That's what everyone else is doing, after all.
You think that maybe it would be simpler if you just carried on doing that exhausting cardio that leaves your body aching and sore, that constantly leaves you prone to sickness and exhaustion, and that never seems to get rid of the stubborn fat around your waist and man-boobs. You think that maybe it would be safer if you just stayed away from that scary-looking squat rack, where those big beefy guys are squatting and deadlifting scary amounts of weight and looking jacked. That's what everyone else is doing, after all.
And yet... something keeps you on the road before you. Something tells you that the rewards will come, if only you apply yourself, put in the work, make yourself better. You keep walking, on through the bitterly cold, windswept, endless night, guided only by the inner conviction that you simply have to keep going.
The path is hard at first, full of razor-sharp rocks that tear your feet to ribbons, full of meandering twists and turns that leave you wondering whether you hadn't passed that point several times already. Yet you stay with it, continuously trying to fix little things in your life here and there, constantly trying to maintain a winner's mentality.
Occasionally you get hit hard by unexpected blows- the death of a loved one, a layoff at work, a business deal that fell through, a tough breakup with a girl who managed to break through and actually mean something, an injury that kept you out of commission for a while.
Or maybe the cost is more severe, and you start losing people that you thought were friends. You start becoming jaded about women, seeing them as nothing better than sex objects and receptacles for bodily fluids. You actively distance yourself from your co-workers, and even from the rest of society, because you can't stand to be around their inane stupidity. You start losing touch with your family, with your loved ones, because you just can't see things the way they do any more. You start distancing yourself from your boss and your company, because you know that you could do better on your own as an entrepreneur. Perhaps you even begin to question your relationship with the Almighty- perhaps you go so far as to question whether He exists at all, and whether the world that He ostensibly created can possibly make sense when so much about it seems so horribly wrong.
At any rate, you just keep walking. You're patient, because you have come to realise that this journey without end will only give you what you have earned- nothing more and nothing less. You take the long view. You come to understand and embrace the reality that there is no end to this road that you're on, and you give up trying to look for shortcuts as you embrace one little victory at a time.
You persevere. And little by little, as your body becomes stronger ,and your health improves, and your sex life changes, and your finances heal, your load becomes lighter, your step becomes more confident, and your chin rises. You see light beginning to intrude upon the darkness ahead. And as you keep walking, the road becomes smoother, the air around you begins to warm, and that light brightens steadily.
At some point, perhaps you take a moment to rest, for you are weary after much toil. You look back at the road you have taken, and you see your growth over that time. You see the radical changes in your body as you have become stronger and happier and healthier through hard exercise and the very best of good eating. You find value and happiness in the relationships with those precious few who truly understand you for who you are. You warmly remember the women you took, viewing them no longer as mere sex objects, or as goddesses to be venerated, but as human beings with their own agendas and desires, and you smile as you recognise that the character of women simply cannot be changed. You look back on all that you have learned, the knowledge that comes from a lifetime of reading the thoughts of great men who have done great things. You find that you are happy not because you have material possessions, but because you are independent, able to live life on your terms, at the mercy of no one.
And as you turn again to face the light, you slowly realise that the bitterly cold, dank chill of the night's awful wind in your face has changed into a refreshing cool breeze at your back, pushing you forward, as you square your shoulders and, with a light heart and a happy spirit, take your next step along that never-ending road.
* If you have not yet read John C. Wright's uproariously funny review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and its attendant references to the Stupidity Hammer, please do yourself a favour and read it forthwith