Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Get Busy Living....I Hope

Pop quiz - do you know what these words have in common?  Let's take it further.  They are actually two movie quotes.  They happen to my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite movies.  The first quote I think about a lot especially when I am scared, my anxiety is on the rise, and my fears of cancer are swarming madly in my mind.  I'll jump right in and give you the first quote:

"Get busy living or get busy dying.  That's damn right."

Has it triggered a memory yet?  Alright, I'll cave and give the movie.  It's one of the last scenes in The Shawshank Redemption.  It's near the end when the character Red finds the message from his friend Andy, long after Andy escaped the prison.  The bottom line is Red can stay confined to us current life as a parolee or he can use the money Andy gives him to escape town and meet him by the ocean.  He figures he's an old, harmless con that has done his time and says he doubts that "any roadblocks would be put up; not for an old con like me."  And for me, this is the part where I cue the tears.  It gets me every time and even more so in my post cancer world.  I feel like the cancer is the prison in this example and I am the parolee.  I can stay stuck in this cancer prison, checking in with the cancer fears on a regular basis as if it is my parole officer.  Or?  I can "get busy living."

The very last quote of the movie is simply:  "I hope."  The underlying point of the entire movie is hope.  During their many conversations, Andy discusses hope with Red.  Red, feeling defeated for his many parole rejections doesn't believe in hope and feels it is a waste of time.  In the end, however, when he finally gets his parole granted as well as knowing that Andy is living free, he finally sees the hope.  He ends with telling us his hopes as he goes off to find Andy by the sea.

Hope is so much more than a word, an idea, a value.  Hope is us.  It's our meaning.  It's what pushes us forward.  It is not wishful thinking in the text that "gee I hope I win the lottery, or I hope to live to 100."  Hope is a form of gravity that keeps us grounded.  It keeps us moving forward.  It helps shed the light on the tough times.  Without hope, what is the point, really?  What are you moving forward to.  Hope allows us to get busy living instead of getting busy dying.  That is why those two quotes stay with me all the time.  They are my lighthouse in those days where I can't find a way to get grounded.

As for all of us - cancer survivors, cancer supporters, and strangers - try to remember:  Get busy living....at least , that is what I hope.

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