The Shawshank Principle

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.

~Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption.

We all have our own varied experience here on this planet. Some seem to be blessed with all the world has to offer from birth, while for others, each day is a fight to survive. Most of us lie somewhere in the middle. We have our gifts, we  have our short comings, and we each struggle in our own way.

No matter how humble or extravagant our beginnings are, our lives are still on roller coasters. We experience high times, low times, and sometimes our life gets turn upside-down. No man or woman is exempt from the effects of the ride, myself included.

In my forty-first year around the sun, I’m not sure that my roller coaster hasn’t derailed completely and plunged off the top. To say 2016 has been rough is like saying the Grand Canyon is a little hole in the ground. In every facet of my life, I have faced upheaval.

When one person’s life changes in a dramatic way, it can’t help but flow through those that are close to them. Friends and family rush to help in anyway they can, throwing the normal circadian rhythms of their lives off, as well. That takes its toll on relationships with those people. It’s a constant battle to find balance and harmony in how you deal with people, all because of the change of status with one other person.

But, what comes next is the measure of the man or woman. How you respond to these challenges speaks to your character, or lack thereof. You can choose to let these things overwhelm you, strip you of your dignity. Or, you can pull yourself up and fight. That’s what I choose to do. Get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s goddamn right.

In the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption, the main character, Andy Dufresne, reaches the same kind of monumental life choice. He talks about his struggle in this scene:

If you haven’t seen the movie, Andy chooses to fight. And so do I. I might have to crawl through 500 yards of metaphorical shit before I get to where I want to be, but someday I will stand tall on the other side. Because I have hope, and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.


About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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