Thoughts about Shawshank

Today’s thoughts have taken me to a random place: The 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption. When this movie came out, I was 18 years old. I had just graduated high school. I was dating my first girlfriend, and just about to embark on my adult life. I didn’t see this movie for another year. At the time, I was reluctant to begin anything. I was very naive for one. The College experience was like shifting gears without using a clutch, just grinding into another place and hoping you got there. It was probably the next year that I saw it. At the time, I considered it brutal. Violent. Gratuitous.

Only later would I recognize it as the truly beautiful story it was.

Today, mulling over thoughts about work, which has been on everyone’s minds lately, and recent work emails discussing the coronavirus and possible shutdowns here at work due to quarantines, a quote from the movie just leapt into my head.

“Terrible thing to live in fear.”

This thought has been in my head so much throughout my adult life. Quite possibly, this is the thought that has been the continual thread throughout my experience for the last 20 years. Lately, I see a lot of fear. Whether it is Trump, Coronovirus, layoffs, CPS, courtroom drama, loneliness, solitude, war, illness, poverty, Alexa, or anything else that keeps adults up at night, I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what it does to adults.

I think about one catastrophe after the next. The newest big thing to be afraid of. Climate change, pandemics, mass extinctions, socialism, capitalism, carcinogens in plastic bottles, an entire Texas-sized island of carcinogenic plastic floating around the Pacific. Turn on the news and if it bleeds, it reads. Words hurt and microaggressions, hashtag metoo, hashtag meat-too, the whole things sounds like a Billy Joel song after a while.

Yes, a Billy Joel song nobody really likes any more than an REM song with the same doom and gloom lyrics.

But here’s the thing. What in the actually fresh hell does anyone think any of this fear is going to accomplish other than putting a leash and a collar around your neck for someone else to drag you around by? If we just keep our heads down and don’t draw attention to ourselves, we can get by. We will get to lead our lives of quiet desperation. But really, nobody sneaks past Death.

Sorry, folks, but if it’s your time to go…no need to even pack a bag.

Pandemics have been around for as long as there have been people and germs. Here’s what happens. Germs are passed from people to people. A lot of factors determine whether or not you will die. Your general health, blood type, immune system, etc. We are constantly riding on the crest of infection and death. Those of us who don’t ride the wave wipe out. Yes, that is being glib, but what good does wearing the masks and bleaching everything really do? At some point, you will be exposed to an airborn pathogen. Much like smallpox and how it wiped out most of the populations of the Americas in the 16th Century, there were a lot of people who did survive.

That’s all any of us is really doing.

Should we put our lives on hold? Should we be hyper-vigilant to the point that our lives stop? No. As someone who was married to a self-proclaimed germaphobe, I can attest that this is the worst thing you can do.

Go, play in the dirt. Yes, wash your hands and cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. If you are sick, stay home and try not to spread it around. Or you know, give yourself time to recover so you don’t die. Your immune system is actually pretty great. Take your vitamins to help it along. Get help if you are really sick.

This crap will run its course. More people in the 1920s died during the Spanish flu because of a miracle drug called Aspirin, which was used to relieve pain and lower fevers. Aspirin also gives women and children Reye’s Syndrome. They didn’t know much about this until sixty years later, so a lot of those deaths from the Spanish Flu were probably due to Reye’s Syndrome.

Lots of people died during that pandemic. More than World War One killed actually. But a hundred years later, the population of the world is at an all-time high. Ever.

With my job, politics, so many other things, I have learned that these things have a way of sorting themselves out. Losing my job won’t mean bread lines or a life of crime. It might just mean that I am seeing the end of an unhealthy relationship. Opportunities cannot present themselves if you are sitting around in a hole all day.

Sometimes I think that our governments want us to live in a constant state of fear because is keeps us in line. Lets be afraid of other cultures because they are our enemy. Let’s be afraid of the air and the germs floating around in it, let’s be afraid of melting ice caps.

How dare you! You have stolen my childhood!

How dare you? Propagating more fear, you little twit. You’ve encouraged more learned helplessness.

Let’s be afraid of everything instead of opening our eyes to that which we should just be getting angry at. Changes that need to be made. Institutions which have outlived their purpose. Such as racism, sexism, classism, or obsession with celebrity. Allowing academics to be experts because they have been gatekeepers of information for far too long, and now that we have all the information at the tip of our fingertips, they really don’t want to let go. Politicians, who used to represent thousands from afar used to rule because they represented the ideals of the people. Well, now the people are right here. But in spite of all the information we have, we are dumber than ever.

We need our fears to control us I guess.

Some people I know take comfort in their fear. That’s not really how I want to live, myself, if I’m gonna be honest. I would rather have hope. And if I can’t have hope, then I would rather walk away while I still can.

6 thoughts on “Thoughts about Shawshank

  1. One of my best friends put up a for real post on her WP Blog (Living the Travel Channel) about living in China and many of my US friends on FB are freaking out! I think one of my own college friends wrote it best when he shared several key things to remember and two of them were to wash your hands in soap and hot water after using the bathroom and sneezing and blowing your nose and touching cash and…..
    Being afraid is stupid and I’m afraid of a lot of things! (spiders come to mind)
    Good points you made, my friend!

  2. Graduated in 1994? I’ve got 10 years on you.

    Shawshank broke my heart. I saw it one time and that was enough.

    Thems dat runs da world like a scared populace. Easier to control & direct. I always try to keep that in mind when my SO just HAS to see the evening news of “…if it bleeds, it leads…”

    Let me guess…”We didn’t start the fire…” & “It’s the end of the world as we know it…”?

    There are those that actually consume some “dirt”:

    The Spanish Flu also caused a cytokine storm in compromised immune systems.

    Don’t believe the population numbers. The UN is lying:

    Heh. Love the twit remark. She is a victim of bad parenting and climate hysteria.

    Excellent post. You have a lovely grasp of the situation. Well said.

  3. Another really interesting post. As you say, fear doesn’t make for a very effective living companion; it gets boring staying inside with the curtains drawn, or in a prison of your own making. I differ slightly in my interpretation of “How dare you” – mostly because I find rage a far preferable alternative to fear, and in my own life far more good has come of it. The trick is to keep your head. The problem is “keeping your head” looks like different things to different people. At any rate – between keeping my head, managing anger, and paying attention to the lives around me, it does leave very little time for fear.

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