My husband and I have an unspoken list of movies that we see over and again, particularly late at night when we should be mature and get some rest, but instead we watch the last hour of Braveheart or Shawshank Redemption. It’s a codependent sickness—or gift—depending on your perspective.
One of those movies is Cast Away. I’m going to assume most of you have seen it at this point, but if you haven’t and intend to, then…what are you waiting for? The movie is 14 years old. Consider this a spoiler alert, because I am going to talk about the ending of the movie.
After four years keeping himself alive on a deserted island, in large part keeping the will to live by remembering his fiancé back home, Tom Hanks’ character, Chuck Noland, is rescued only to find that his fiancé has moved on…like marriage-with-another-guy and already-has-a-child moved on. Sometimes I want to slap Helen Hunt. All that in four years? As it turns out, she loves Chuck, but she’s not leaving her marriage.
Chuck now has to figure out what this new—and very different—world holds for him, and he drives off not knowing at all what that may be. Near the very end of the movie, he is standing—literally—at a crossroads. It is a wide open space from which to decide. He gets a little bit of a nudge when the beautiful woman who belongs to the last package he delivered stops and lets him know where each road leads. His smile indicates that he just may choose the same one that she heads down.
I was pretty young when I recognized that my life was meant to be lived in chapters, particularly in my work life. I realized it is just who I am. Several chapters have already been written, but now, I, too, stand at a crossroads.
This crossroads was not one I headed toward on my own, and so I can relate to Hanks’ character looking into the vast unknown and scratching his head.
I’m no longer in my 20s with my life ready to unfold…there’s been plenty of unraveling already. But…so what? What does that really mean? I love the quote that writer Connie Schultz shared about a friend of hers who was going into med school at 42. People said to her, “but you’ll be 50 by the time you are a doctor…” Her response? “I’m going to be 50 someday anyway. I may as well be 50 and a doctor.”
Time is all in how you approach it, right?
Of course, there is no promise of tomorrow.
Just last night I was looking over a tribute page on Facebook of those from my high school class who are no longer with us. Well over a dozen—and that’s just the ones that were shared on the tribute page. Lives cut short from what we assume to be an “average” life span. But no one’s life is average.
You really can’t assume you have an allotted amount of time in this world, and that’s why I get so frustrated with myself when I feel as though I am letting it slip away.
Time is the great leveler. Some people are rich, some poor, some quick-minded, some fleet of foot. But everyone gets exactly 24 hours in a day (or 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.0916 seconds for you literalists out there). What we do with our equal allotment is up to us.
So…which road to take? In fact, where are the roads?
The white noise that floods my head on a daily basis makes it a little challenging to figure out what my next right step is, but I am searching for the quiet in order to better hear the Answer to which path is meant for me.
If God could program my GPS, that would help, but so far he hasn’t worked that way. So far he has given me an internal compass that I need to follow. I just need to pull away from the metal interference that is jamming my reading, and perhaps then I’ll see my true north.
For each of us who face one kind of a crossroads or another, the decisions that must come from it are often not easy to make. The more you have traveled, the more baggage (both good and bad) you carry. The more baggage, the more to consider. The more to consider, the more complicated the choice. But while it is not easy, it is a choice that must be made—otherwise you will simply be left in the middle of the road scratching your head. And sooner or later, you’re going to get hit by a truck and who wants that?
And so I find myself staring at my map and figuring out my direction.
It is indeed a journey—and one I am blessed to travel—even when the path remains yet to be seen.
“…I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”
~Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) in Cast Away