Inception – The Shade

Today’s blog is a lesson I got from one of my favorite movies in the past five years. When Inception came out, everyone was talking about it, and told me that I should go see it. It wasn’t until a good friend who I trust told me to go to the movie that I finally did. And then I went again. Six times total. Then I saw it at home. Or at another friend’s house. During this process, I got to know the movie very well.

Here is the summary of the movie on IMDb. “In a world where technology exists to enter the human mind through dream invasion, a highly skilled thief is given a final chance at redemption which involves executing his toughest job to date: Inception.” (Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t seen it, you may not want to read on.)

The difficult in understanding Inception is that you are moving in and out of a dream world throughout the movie. Throughout the movie, you are asking the question, “What is real?” Sometimes, you forget which layer of dreams you are in during the movie, and you take the momentary perception created through dreams as your reality. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, just watch the movie, then come back and read this last paragraph and it will make sense.

The thief, Dom Cobb, is married to a woman named, Mal. At least he was. He keeps running into her in different perceived realities. Dreams many would say, but the movie gives no final say to this. So here comes the spoiler alert.

Mal haunts Dom wherever he goes. She just keeps showing up. She tinkers, and often ruins the reality he is in. Until he says these words to her.

This is one of the most profound moments in the movie. Dom finally comes to a place that he lets go of the wife he has been holding on to. Not just the wife he has been holding on to, but the one he has preserved and continued to create in his mind. Dom is able to find her, to meet her in the dream constructed reality. Mal, in real life died years before. He continues to create her out of personal guilt, and out of the fantasy that the dream created Mal can fulfill him as the real life, Mal.

The line that I love is, “You’re just a shade, a shade of my real wife.” What he is creating in his mind isn’t good enough. Dom’s dream created Mal is just a shade of her true self.

Now, the turn in the blog. I believe that this line hits me so hard because so many times, I have looked in the mirror and felt something close to,

“You’re just a shade, a shade of my real life.”

I know how beautiful, bold, and passionate I can live life. I know how big I can play in this life. I know that I can live high octane, full of laughter, and filled with the joy of God. And when I see myself living several days on end in a small, weak, timid fashion, all I see is a shade of my real self.

The key here I believe is don’t give up. Don’t give up on yourself, because there are people who aren’t. If you don’t hear a voice cheering for you, my voice is cheering for you as I write this. You have the imprint of God on you. In His image, He created you. You can play bold, big, and live a life that is worthy of the oxygen you breathe in each day. But, life is too short to be a shade. It will cost too much to play small. Your complexity, beauty, your perfection, your imperfection, it is all there for a reason. Do not reduce yourself to a shade. Let your heart live wide open with passion and courage. You are not a shade. You are God’s masterpiece.


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