Do not be an Institutional Man.
I have been thinking often lately of the movie The Shawshank Redemption, which is a great movie that the people around me get upset when it comes on because I will always want to watch it, or at least watch two specific scenes in the film that never fail to move me and or to make me think..
The first scene is the scene where Tim Robbins talks to Morgan Freeman in the prison yard, late in the movie, after spending years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
In that scene Robbins tells Freeman that there comes a time in your life when you either get busy living or get busy dying ( a paraphrase on my part and also a crib from Dylan), and that phrase gets me each time because it is always completely true.
It also motivates me every time.
Each moment you have in life you need to choose whether to grow and learn, you take risks, and you improve, or you don’t. If you don’t, then you become a smaller person each day as time goes.
It is always time to get busy living. Always.
The other scene is the one where Red (Morgan Freeman) is paroled and he goes out into the world that he doesn’t understand, and in the voice over he discusses being an Institutional Man.
An Institutional Man is someone who is no longer independent, and who has lived so long as part of “the system” and under rules that they can no longer make their own decisions. They can no longer think for themselves, and they live not as themselves, but as shadows.
This one always hits home for me.
It is something I don’t ever want to be, someone who cannot think or fend for himself.
I think it is some of what affects the United States today. We have become an Institutional Population, a nation of people who always wait for others to solve their problems, and who meekly follow the yellow lines on the floor unthinkingly.
The world is an amazing place, full of potential and options, and the worse thing we can do is believe we do not have control.
We always have options and we always have the choice of control and the more chances we take in life, the better our results, the better our life.
Waiting for change is a loser’s game.
Making the change is how you live,
and it is how you win,
and it is how you avoid being an institutional man.
The world is simply too big and bright for any other way to be.
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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