The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED TWO: A THREE-CENT STAMP
(In the following blog post, I give spoilers to the movie The Shawshank Redemption. If you have not seen this movie, I suggest that you do so RIGHT NOW!!! Not only is it a great movie, it would help to see it to understand this blog post a bit better.)
I knew that if I was to write as many blog posts as I have, I would eventually get back around to talking about the same things. Maybe even some of the same subjects.
Come on, if you read these week to week, you knew it, too.
But as I think about things, some of those that I thought of and wrote about hits me in different ways. I catch things that I may have missed. Or, in this case, something that I wanted to say was right there, for all to see, that proves how true a certain subject is.
Let me explain…
Just a few mornings ago, I woke up from a barrage of dreams. And none of those dreams (as far as I remember) lead me to my first waking thought.
It was a postcard. But not just any postcard.
This one was received by Ellis Redding from Andy Dufresne after Andy had escaped from Shawshank Prison. As Red (Ellis) turned it over to read the back, he saw that the postmark was from Fort Hancock, Texas, obviously where Andy had crossed the border into Mexico on his way to Zihuatanejo, Mexico.
I believe that this piece of thin cardboard that carried a postmarked 3 cent stamp was the most important thing in the movie for Red.
A three-cent stamp brought Red the one thing that he never thought he would ever feel again while he was imprisoned: hope.
Hope is what kept Red from hanging himself like Brooks. Hope is what caused Red to buy a compass instead of a gun at the pawn shop. Hope is what took Red to the tree in the hay field near Buxton where Andy buried the money and the letter under the volcanic glass rock. And hope is what made Red get on the bus to Fort Hancock, Texas.
Here’s the thing about hope. As Andy tells Red in the letter ‘..hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things…’ You see, I agree with that. Except I’ll go a bit further. Hope is the best thing.
You can go through life without all things…(maybe except air, food, and water…duh). You can go without love or friends or freedom. But going without hope, that might as well be the end.
Hope for love, hoping to have friends, hoping for freedom, helps keep us going. It makes the thought of tomorrow worth getting to it. And when you find yourself in prison, a brick and mortar prison or one that you have created for yourself, hope will keep you from giving up and becoming institutionalized.
I have lived a life without love and friends and, to a point, freedom. The lowest points in my life are when I lost hope that those things would come into my life. In those moments, nothing felt worth my time and I just wanted to build myself some walls and live in my own prison. I wanted to die in there. I wanted to curl up and think of nothing.
All because I had lost hope for a short period of time.
But, even though I have dealt with depression, I didn’t really want to be in there. I wanted to have hope that things would turn around and I would have these things that I wanted so badly. In a way, I gave myself my own three-cent stamp postcard card to let myself know that I could have those things. I just couldn’t give up…hope.
We all want to find our own mental version of Zihuatanejo. A place where we can call home, a place where we can find the love and friends and freedom that we have been searching for all of our lives. It might be another continent away. Usually it’s right where you are. When you have hope, finding the things you need and want can be found under your own nose.
I have watched this movie countless times. And every time I watch it, I find something else I didn’t see before. And I also feel uplifted.
The scene where Red is on the search of the infamous ship tin under the volcanic glass is my favorite part in the whole movie. He is searching for a treasure at the end of his hope rainbow. In that tin, he finds love, a friend, and that problematic freedom he’s been searching for his whole life. He finds all of them in that tin. And he finds purpose, a reason to keep going.
Red is me in this movie. He had given up hope and was well on his way to becoming just another prisoner, another Brooks. Respected, yes. Looked up to, yes. But only in prison. But after meeting Andy (who never lost his hope for very long, even when ‘the sisters’ were trying to take it from him), Red discovers in himself that hope had been still been inside him all along, just behind prison walls that Red, himself, put up. For me, Red is the center of the movie just like I’m the center of my movie, the movie I film every day that is my life.
So, hope comes in many forms. It might come from a kiss goodnight. It might come from a laugh from a new friend. It might come from a new job or a new place to live. It might come from writing down what you want to say.
Or hope may come with a three-cent stamp attached.
Look for it and it will be there.
-Loyd Elmore Jr.
March 16th, 2018
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.