One of my all time favourite films is the ‘Shawshank Redemption’, starring Tim Robbins as an accountant sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, forced into all kinds of awful situations who then after spending years in Jail finally escapes after planning to do so for years by digging through a wall to get out and crawling through shit, literally, for hundreds of feet to freedom. Fleeing to Mexico from the prison he sends documents to the FBI that implicates the warden of the Jail for fraud and other crimes and awaits the arrival of his friend played by Morgan Freeman.
I won’t go into it further in case you haven’t seen it, but get yourself to Blockbuster and check it out, but there is a line in the film that I always find provides me with massive inspiration. It makes you want to just think about whatever it is you want to do in your life and doing it. Seizing the moment. Taking or making an opportunity and just jumping in and seeing where it takes you. It may work out, it may not, and the implications of it not working out can be pretty severe. Things like financial security (or rather financial piece of mind- I don’t earn that much), stability, an element of certainty, fear of the unknown, family or other pressures, work pressures, paying the mortgage,the list goes on; all this adds to the decision to go for something different becoming very difficult to make.
I have three years to go before my time in the Army is complete – 22 years! A lifetime really, a period of time that I can now reflect on with various feelings. Extremes of emotions. From immense pride to complete disillusionment. Sometimes I think of the sacrifices I have had to make on a personal and professional level to keep on top of my game, to be good at what I did. I like to think I was good at what I used to do and also what I do now. But it comes at a price. You have to put some things to one side, in my opinion, to be good at this job: family, friends, relationships, career, other work opportunities. All take a back seat for the ‘greater good’.
But there comes a time when you have to make a change, you have to concentrate on what is important to you and where you want your life to go. Three years is a short amount of time in the scheme of things, it does go past quickly, my last 19 years show me this, and at the end of it, when my time is up and I finish my 22 years – a pension awaits, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the carrot on the stick, the flame that attracts the moth, the temptation that keeps you ploughing on regardless for years and years. Truth is, it’s not a massive amount really, handy to have but your not going to be retiring to somewhere warm and sunny and drinking cocktails for the rest of your life.
But that is by the by, the question is, can I wait for another three years? This is my dilemma. My quandary. If I am honest with myself I am ready now, to leave it all behind, I have been for a while now, a long while, my situation now is such that I would quite happily walk away with no regrets. To continue my photographic life as a civilian. To become a better photographer and do the things I want to do, to work on the projects I want to develop away from the military. To photograph issues that I am interested in.
The sooner the better, but the ‘sensible’ part of my brain constantly flags up warning messages about financial issues, security etc…the ‘what ifs‘ that can keep you up nights…..
Time for a decision to be made, or rather, time for me to act on a decision already made.
By the way, the line in the film is……’Get busy living, or get busy dying’.
Time to do just that. And as Morgan Freeman says in response to this line, ‘absolutely, goddamn right’!
The film ends as the camera pulls back to reveal our hero working on an old fishing boat resting on a long, sandy, deserted beach.