The Shawshank Redemption opened in theatres September 23, 1994.
The following afternoon, the Huskers rolled Pacific 70-21 in front of the hometown crowd.
While we all know how that year turned out for the Big Red, Shawshank was mostly overlooked at the box office and during award season as Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction took home most of the hardware.
It wasn’t until a few years later that it began to receive the acclaim it missed the first time around. Thanks to nearly daily showings on basic cable that are still running strong today, The Shawshank Redemption has cemented its status as very arguably one of the greatest films ever made and currently occupies the number one spot on IMDB’s list of the top 250 movies.
But we’re not here to do a dissertation on the legacy of Shawshank.
We’re here to talk about a theory.
It’s called the Shit Tunnel Theory.
I can’t tell you exactly when I came up with the it but I can tell you I was on the couch watching Shawshank for probably the 100th time and was faded enough to have an epiphany that changed my outlook on life.
Allow me to set it up.
According to Shawshank lore, Andy started tunneling his way to freedom with his tiny rock hammer two years into his 19 year stretch. That’s 17 years of chipping through the concrete wall of his prison cell piece-by-piece. An estimate from someone a lot smarter than me put Andy’s progress at 1/64th of an inch per day, or about the thickness of your fingernail.
So after 17 long years Andy final breaks through and has to face one final crucible-The Shit Tunnel. In a film that’s full of cruel moments, this was the cherry on top of a turd sundae.
But Andy give up?
Not a chance.
He grabbed a rock, broke through that pipe, and dove right in. He charged through that “river of shit,” to quote Red, like he was a plumber named Mario on a mission to save a princess. It was 500 yards to freedom and after all he’d been through he was not going to stopped by a Shit Tunnel.
Now if we can go back to me on the couch for a moment, it was during this breakout scene that I realized no matter what goal you’re working towards, there’s always, without fail, going to be an unexpected obstacle that pops up when you have the finish line in sight. Even if it’s not a literal Shit Tunnel, the concept is the same. If you have something you want to achieve, you gotta pay the price by conquering the Shit Tunnel.
Husker fam, if Memorial Stadium is our Shawshank, we have just entered the Shit Tunnel.
So what if the Huskers leave Wisconsin with an L and an 0-5 record for the first time since who knows when? It’s already been a miserable decade and half, what’s another year at this point?
All this losing now won’t mean shit if hang onto the hope and belief that better days are ahead. Sometimes you just gotta hold your breath and barrel down that Shit Tunnel towards where the light should be.
Go Big Red.