The Hope of Zihuatanejo

By PONTIFICUS MINIMUS

Pronounced (Zee-wah-tah-nay-hoe), this real-life vacation destination on the Pacific coast of Mexico is where Morgan Freeman’s character Red in The Shawshank Redemption found his friend Andy Dufresne, years after Andy escaped from a wrongly convicted 20-year stint in prison.

Categorically, some of Pontificus’s favorite quotes come from this heart-wrenching, rife-with-conflict tale of a man unjustly framed, who spent hard years, in a hard prison, doing hard time.

In a nutshell, Andy was a white-collar accountant who was framed during the 1940’s for the murder of his ex-wife and her golf-pro lover. Red and Andy became unlikely friends in prison. Red procured Andy a rock hammer, which he subsequently, privately, and patiently used for over 20 years to tunnel thru the prison walls. When Red was finally released from a “lifetime” in prison, he made his way to the Pacific Coast in Mexico where Andy had waited for years after his escape for Red’s unlikely release.

The relationship formed between Andy and Red is similar to one seen in the Bible between David and Saul’s son Jonathon—a deep-seated bond, grounded in similar aspirations and time spent living complementary existences.

Pontificus opines often about his belief that everybody wants to be loved and recognized as being attractive, smart and funny. In addition to these givens, he believes everyone needs good friends who “get” them.

Couple good friends with the freedom an out-of-the-box thinker like Pontificus needs—even if he is more dysfunctional than a Jerry Springer photo-op— and there is hope, purpose, forgiveness and the ability to add feet to dreams.

According to scripture, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Hope and a good friend not only anchor us, but also give us hope that life’s circumstances will improve.

Pontificus is constantly amazed on the whole how strong people are when placed in a box, though he does not fare as well and wishes he was mentally tougher. Poor William needs sunshine, liberty of movement, and freedom to let his convoluted, ADHD-ridden, free-wheeling mind travel at the speed of light—even if he possesses a mere, dim bulb.

Because of monetary constraints, Pontificus is like a host of others who find themselves working too much, missing out on “living,” and always talking about a peaceful, pastoral existence, but never really achieving it.

After Andy’s spectacular escape from Shawshank, Red commented on Andy’s need for freedom and on his own loss:

“Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright, and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”

This is tender stuff and worthy of admiration. Pontificus’s feathers might not be as bright as they are fluffy, but he does not do well in a cage. His creativity is stifled, his dysfunctions magnified, and his ability to hope is decisively diminished.

Thus, Pontificus is not at his best when stressed and boxed in. Now, he admits to being weak, but he is what he is, and to quote Morgan Freeman’s good friend Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Callahan, “A man got to know his limitations.” And, Poor William does—he gots to be free!

“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies,” Andy told his best friend.

Prior to his escape, Andy told Red a man has two choices, to either get busy living or get busy dying. Truer, more pragmatic words have seldom been spoken.

Pontificus is going to get busy living, imbued with hope, while trying to find the best way to fly, pay the bills, and keep his slightly bright wings from growing dull or being clipped.

Zihuatanejo, look out, Pontificus is on his way—today!


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