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Feb 2016
Nobody “breaks” out of prison. Steel bars are hard enough to bend. One escapes through careful planning—months of fierce attention to detail. Until one day, when the conditions are absolutely perfect. Then, one escapes by beating the system.

One afternoon, while you are observing the doldrums of prison, someone will approach to offer you a key. “Only $5” they will say, “and this key will guarantee your escape. For it is a skeleton-key.” Now, there is an old saying that “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is,” which is easy enough to say. But you have waited so many years in the colossal boredom and misery of prison. For $5, who knows—this key could guarantee your escape. What’s five dollars for the chance of escape? So you take the key, which turns out to be plastic, and immediately snaps in two inside the lock.

Certain lessons in life stick, and this is not one of them. If you drive up to a red light, for example, your foot will naturally reach for the breaks. But this type of lesson has little to do with emotions.

Bad days, on the other hand, will make the entire world feel hopeless and cruel. Even if yesterday had us believing in a world that is beautiful even when it’s ugly. On a bad day, there is no beauty at all.

So, beating a bad day isn’t always about coming to a solution. Sometimes, it’s about endurance. 

When you’re upset, it isn’t just because things got heated with a friend, or because of failure, or an unusually cold week on your holiday leave. When you’re upset, it’s because you were put on this earth to be upset. If you need proof, walk outside and ask—you will never find a person who doesn’t know pain.

But there are two outcomes to every coin toss, and even then, it isn’t as if the other face has disappeared. It is only hidden from sight until the next time the coin is tossed. And though you may not see it, you know for certain that if you turn that coin over the opposite face will be there.

This isn’t to say that our emotions are guided by the same lottery as a coin toss. Life, I hope, is full of choice and circumstance that exceed the simplicity of chance. But it is at least fair to say that, whatever the circumstances, you will outlive pain


Sometimes you’ll have to endure many unlucky coin tosses. It will begin to seem as though they will all be unlucky.

But think hard—the other side is there.

Escape is coming, but you can’t break the bars. So keep your eyes open. Be patient. Every day is a new toss: no matter where the coin lands, the outcome is yours.
A short musing on how to face life and its inevitable sadness.
Alex Hoffman
Written by
Alex Hoffman  Toronto
       Argentum, Cat Fiske and Amanda Goodness
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