What Andy Dufresne Can Teach Us About the Path to Freedom

You know how when you have a fantastic idea and get all jazzed up about it, at some point, you inevitably run headfirst into a rock hard wall?

Well, there are two kinds of people facing this wall. One keeps their eye on the prize and figures out how to Andy Dufresne their way out of it and the other looks at the wall and then at their pocket full of other equally exciting ideas, backs away from the wall and moves on to the new, untouched idea on the top of the list. We know how that goes. The novelty will wear off, the list of ideas will dwindle, and the half-finished projects will mount up.

And, then there’s the regret.

Oof.

As a creative person, I know far too well being disenchanted when hurdles and walls pop up on my path. It feels like a buzzkill. It’s far too easy to be distracted and doubt yourself when your original pebble of an idea grows and then hits rock hard walls. The major problem is that as frustrating as the walls may be, avoiding them creates a shallowing of your soul. It chips away slowly and then grows as loud as a jackhammer. Next thing you know, you’re passing middle age at racing day speed with a lackluster and humdrum perspective. You’re jaded. You’re worn. And, let’s be honest, the incredible ideas never left you. You left them.

So, here’s come the choice: You can either continue to add weight to your list of excuses and mask them as “achievements” or you can face this dark knight head on and take back what was yours. Your choice. That’s yours.

Having just turned 40, I vowed to myself that if an experience was going to scare the crap out of me (in the best crap scaring way possible) I was all in.

I have more of a burning desire for clarity and simplification. These ideas I have? Will they make the world a better place? If the answer is yes and I’m too chicken shit to follow through with them, then I have a lot of work to chip myself out of my self-made concrete prison.

When I’m in major analysis paralysis I start by asking myself a few questions and promising that I will be as honest as I can: What’s working for me and what isn’t? Are the people I’m spending time with lifting me up after I leave them or draining me out? What decisions are being made, (yes, this again) out of love or fear? It’s a rolling-up of my sleeves to stop being polite and start getting real with myself. It is not a blissful path. It’s uncomfortable and if you’re like me and have a beast of resistance gnawing at any mention of the word “change” it is straight up agonizing at times. As they say, sometimes it takes going through shit to realize some shit.

And as our dear friend, Andy Dufresne showed us, (spoiler alert if you are the one person in human existence who hasn’t seen The Shawshank Redemption) the ultimate prize for hanging in there and wading through an endless stream of shit is pure unadulterated freedom.

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