POINTS TO PONDER: When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves. -Viktor E. Frankl
STORY LINE: This story is about great life learnings from three characters from the movie The Shawshank Redemption.
Brooks went into prison when he was a young man and left 49 years later when he was an old man who had known nothing more than a life behind bars. Upon his release, Brooks finds the world has changed. People move faster. Cars, which he had seen once before going into prison, are everywhere. One nearly runs him over after he is released. The world in Brooks' view, "went and got itself in a big damn hurry." For the remainder of his time as a free man, he finds himself struggling to catch up, finding that he liked life in prison better than life outside of it.
It becomes too much for Brooks and eventually he considers committing another crime to send him back to what he knows best - the federal penitentiary. When he finds he doesn't have the strength to execute another crime to send him back, he takes his own life instead. Above the spot where he hangs himself, Brooks carves, "Brooks was here."
Andy is the main character in the film. He is spending back to back life sentences for a crime that he was falsely accused of. He has a clear vision of his future and does not plan to spend all his life behind bars. He gets along well with fellow inmates, demonstrates good work habits, inspires prisoners, assists prison guards and warden with their tax and accounting issues and gains their confidence. But at the same time he is slowly and meticulously planning his escape.
During his time he develops a deep friendship with a fellow named Red with whom he shares his dream. Red has spent most of his life in prison, since teenage years, and every day of his adult life he has deeply regretted his criminal act that sent him to prison. After spending all his adult life in the institution he has become cynical and has no hopes about the future. The following dialogue between Andy and Red shows how each friend thinks about their future.
One stormy night Andy manages to escape from the prison and proceeds towards the place of his dream. A few years later, Red gets paroled. As part of transition, he is assigned the same lodging that Brooks had spent his last days. Even though he is also finding the outside world hard, the years of friendship and dialogue with Andy seems to have impact on him. He makes a different decision about his future and carves the following words next to Brooks’ words before leaving the hotel room to follow his friend. “Brooks was here, so was Red.”
REFLECTION: Often we run, hide, and self-destruct in the face of change. Brooks’ scene has always been profoundly sad to me because I never would have thought that prison would be a place that anyone would want to return. But for Brooks, it seems prison is the only place he wants to be because Brooks' prison isn't a place, it's the inability for him to hope and to change. His prison was in his mind.
However Andy’s story has been very inspirational; full of hope, dreams, associated actions and persistence. As he says in one of his chats with Red “Hope is a good thing, may be the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”
Red’s story is about willingness to try and change. Eventhough he had many doubts, he was influenced by his association with Andy and took a positive action instead of giving up.
It makes me think of the things in our lives that are prisons and the reasons we stay within them. When we chose not to change, our inability to adapt can lead to stagnation. Stagnation means no movement. And no movement is akin to death.
We must hope high. We must keep moving. And changing. And growing. We must conquer the prisons we set for ourselves in our mind.
“The world is too big and full of opportunities. If you believe in yourself there is always room for your talents in this wide and wonderful world.” My father’s advice to me when I left home at the age of 15.