Then and Now

Red pulled up a chair in front of the parole board…again. He’d been there before. Several times in fact. But this time was different. He had spent 40 years of his life behind prison walls. He was tired of playing their games. Tired of giving them the same bullshit answers. So, instead he told them how it is.

“Not a day goes by I don’t feel regret,” he began. “Not because I’m in here or because you think I should. I look back on the way I was; a young, stupid kid that committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him. I want to try and talk some sense to him. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone. This old man is all that’s left.”

I think about this scene from the film, The Shawshank Redemption, often. You can see the full weight of regret all over Morgan Freeman’s weathered face as he masterfully delivered those lines.

Thankfully, I don’t have a lot of regret, and I’ve managed to stay out of prison my entire life 🙂

Still, I get it.

When I put these two pictures of me next to each other — 41 years between them — I can’t help but take on the role of Red. I want to talk to that kid. I want to tell him not to worry so much. I’d tell him he doesn’t have to lose the boy inside, but be a man. It’s attractive. I’d let him in on the secret that there are no giants, so fear no one. I’d tell him to ask Dad more questions, and when he asks you to clean the garage, just do it.

My friend Raad has another view. “Leave that kid alone,” he insists. “Don’t mess with God’s canvas. It’s perfectly imperfect for a reason. That boy grows up to be a good man.”

Maybe Raad’s right. You cannot reroute roads you’ve already traveled. They got you to where you are. There is purpose for every pothole and there are more roads to travel.

And yet…I want to talk to him. But I can’t. That kid’s long gone. This old man is all that’s left.

Well, not so old. Still moving. Still growing.

Grateful for then and now.