Tuesday, January 08, 2013


I did a post a while back about the Gratitude Prayer:
“My gratitude speaks when I care and share the NA way that no addict seeking recovery need ever die from the horrors of addiction”

I talked some about Stan, and the Eternity Medallion.
It makes me think of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”
In it, Morgan Freeman plays a convict named Red doing a life sentence. Every year he comes up for parole, and every year they ask him “Do you feel you've been rehabilitated? “
And every year he tells them “Oh yes, I’ve learned my lesson. I’m no longer a danger to anyone. I’m a changed man” and every year they turn him down.
Finally after 40 years and they bring Red in, and he’s tired of playing this game, and it goes like this…

"Have you been rehabilitated?"

“Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don't have any idea what that means.”

“Well, it means that you're ready to rejoin society...”

“I know what *you* think it means, sonny. To me it's just a made up word. A politician's word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?

“Well, are you?”

"There's not a day goes by I don't feel regret. Not because I'm in here, or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was then: a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him, tell him the way things are. But I can't. That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left. I got to live with that. Rehabilitated? It's just a bullshit word. So you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don't give a shit."

So they let Red go.

And he goes, and he gets a job sacking groceries in a grocery store, which was the same job as Brooks, another con they let out had had.
But ol’ Brooks, he didn’t fit in outside the prison walls, and one night he carves his name into the wooden header in his apartment, puts a rope around his neck and kicks the chair out from under himself.

And now Red is working that same job, living in that same apartment, and one day he asks the boss if he can go to the bathroom, and his boss looks at him like he’s nuts and says “You don’t have to ask me that, just go!”
And so now Red feels all out of place, and wonders if he’s cut out for life on the outside, and in the movie he takes off his bagger's apron, leaves the store, and as he walks down the street there is Morgan Freeman's great narrative voice as Red talks to himself.
He says:
“There's a harsh truth to face. No way I'm gonna make it on the outside. All I do anymore is think of ways to break my parole, so maybe they'd send me back. Terrible thing, to live in fear. Brooks Hatlen knew it. Knew it all too well. All I want is to be back where things make sense.”

As he says this, he stops in front of a pawn shop window where there is a pistol.
And you expect Red to go into the pawn shop, buy the pistol, and find a way back into the life that he knew.
But that’s not what he does. He comes out with a scout compass, and for me to try to tell you what he does with the compass would turn this post into a Stephen King book. So if you have a chance to see the movie, I do recommend.

But it makes me think of the NA program, and how I have a choice today and with that choice is some hope that I can be whoever I want to be, no longer trapped under the control of a drug or a system. That no addict seeking recovery need ever die...literally or figuratively.

It also reminds me that the only way to keep from returning to active addiction is not to take that first drug.


SL said...

So glad that you found your compass, found your way back....coming up on 5 years! Great post BH!

Kevin King said...

I accidentally stumbled upon this blog through a google images search. Thanks for the message...I am 6 years without a drink...HP works in mysterious ways.

bulletholes said...

Good for you Kevin! I'm glad to hear it. Thanks for stopping by.

Martijn said...

Same from me, Steve: great post.

I normally have a way of letting my eyes turn glassy and not really listening when someone is telling the story lines of a movie to me, but in this case, with the magnificent movie that it is, and your gift for story telling, I hung to your lips and loved to hear it again (you added a deeper depth), althoug I have seen the movie perhaps 5 times. And your lesson isn't lost on me either.

bulletholes said...

Hey Martijn. I love this line...
"That kid's long gone and this old man is all that's left."