Thursday 5 July 2012

Shawshank Redemption

I watched Shawshank Redemption again the other night and was reminded of why I loved that movie.  It’s a band of brothers story, but with prison life substituting for war.  The prisoners bond together against the harshness of the guards and their fellow inmates and against the boredom of incarceration. 

Whenever I watch a film or read a book multiple times, I always see different aspects.  Depending on where I am in my life, I see different things in them.  It’s one reason I resist getting rid of books and DVDs because I rarely believe I’ve completely exhausted the potential of a story.

With Shawshank, this time I noticed the foil of the two approaches to coping with prison.  Andy fights to hold on to his hope and his outside identity, even though it makes him a target for both the guards and the other prisoners.  Red and Brooks both surrender their hope, becoming institutionalized.  They accept the walls and restrictions of the prison life, making it their home and their world.  Brooks is unable to adapt to life on the outside and commits suicide.  While acceptance and surrendering makes life inside easier, it doesn’t let them move on afterwards.

Any long term hardship demands one of those strategies.  You can fight and struggle against it, risking wearing yourself out before the hardship ends.  Or you can accept and surrender to the inevitable, saving your energy for survival but risking being unable to survive outside the hardship.

Raising a special needs child isn’t exactly the same as prison, but it is a hardship.  I spend an inordinate amount of money, time and effort on helping my children with their challenges.  I also put a lot of effort into carving out time for myself and my own goals and interests, such as writing and craftwork.  I’m fighting on two fronts, risking burning myself out even faster.  But at the same time, the cost of surrender is too high.  I have to pace myself but I can’t stop fighting.

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