When he uttered the famous last voiceover line in the beloved film The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman wasn’t so much acting as he was pulling on a heartstring of his own in hopes that it would resonate with the audience and cap a masterpiece.

“I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

That’s because not only does Freeman admit a lifelong affinity for the sea, but he became a man near it, attaining the rank of Airman 1st Class as an Automatic Radar Repairman in the United States Air Force.

He’s also an avid sailor. Allow him to explain the interesting reason for why he wears earrings, and why he’s so enchanted with the deep blue ocean, in this snippet from an interview with The Guardian published back in 2010:

I always wanted an earring. It has to do with my attachment to the sea. When I was around 35 I was separated from my wife and she said, “I’m going to pierce your ear.” I’m an avid sailor, a dyed-in-the-wool blue-water man.

You know why sailors used to wear a gold earring? It’s enough money to bury you in a foreign country.

There are two or three tricks to being a good sailor. One is courage. You have to be willing to face the sea. And the rest is just knowledge – you can learn a lot by listening to other sailors about how to survive almost unsurvivable situations.

I’ve been in dangerous storms. There comes a moment when you think you may not get through, and in that moment there’s a peacefulness that settles over you and you’re no longer afraid. That’s also the moment when you have to say, “I’m going to face this demon. I’m going to stand up and I’m going to do what I have to do. Not just by lying down and letting the sea wash over me, but by fighting it.”

After you’ve been in mortal danger, you don’t look at the world differently – you look at yourself differently. The world is just the world – it’s the same, nothing’s changed. But you have a different idea of yourself. You think, I did it. I survived it.