As a man serving out a life sentence in The Shawshank Redemption, ‘Red’ Redding (Morgan Freeman) is far from your average inmate. Cautious and well-spoken, Red offers many on the inside what they lacked themselves: perspective. When he befriends a new prisoner serving back-to-back life sentences, Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), the two form a lasting friendship. But while Andy’s intelligence and gumption defined him, it’s the thoughtful counsel of Red, backed by his years of experience, that helps him through his years of imprisonment. Every now and then, we all need a little perspective to help us carry on. For moments like those, let these Red quotes be your guide.
“It was outdoor detail — and May is one damn fine month to be working outdoors.”
It’s important to always try and make the most of your situation, and very few were better at that than Red. When it comes time to tar the prison roof, Red jumps at the chance to maneuver him and his buddies into some outdoor work, especially since it occurs during the month of May, one of the best months to be outside. Even if your situation doesn’t seem to be changing all that much, it’s important to take solace in the little things as they come. Like Red says, those few moments drinking icy-cold, Bohemian-style beer made him and his fellow inmates feel like they were “the lords of all creation.” A quaint reminder that whatever your circumstance, it’s only as good as you choose to see it.
“I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream.”
When Andy holes up in the Warden’s office and blasts an Italian opera through the prison loudspeaker, all the prisoners gather around, taking pause to appreciate the music. While Andy provides a brief escape to those stuck inside Shawshank State Penn, Red puts an absolutely poetic spin on the moment, speaking of the fleeting moment of hope it gives to the otherwise dull existence of life behind bars. Granted, once the music was silenced, life mostly continues on as normal. But as Andy later puts it, there’s something about music — and the feelings it can create — that simply can’t be silenced. When you truly savor those moments, they’ll stay with you forever — regardless of if the power’s turned off.