My husband was watching Castaway on TV the other night and I heard Tom Hank’s character say those lines and I thought to myself ‘how true’. We just have to keep breathing. Granted, most of us have not been stranded on an uninhabited island, and getting ice for a drink has never been a serious concern. Maybe we’ve had a few close calls or survived a dangerous situation, but we cannot relate to the total desperation this character felt. Or can we?
There’s that thing about breathing that kept coming back to me. “I stayed alive. I kept breathing.” There have been times in my life when stress has taken hold and my breathing has become shallow, seemingly defying its natural tendency to work automatically. Have you ever had that experience? Or have you ever been depressed? There are times when desperation can happen even in our seemingly safe world where ice is handy and transportation is easily accessible. In fact, desperation can occur anywhere to anyone. Maybe that is why Castaway has such broad appeal. We can each see a little bit of ourselves in this ordinary man trapped in extraordinary circumstances who has to grapple with loneliness, depression and despair, and we get to root for him when the tide brings him a sail.
And someday, we may need the tide to bring us a sail as we grapple with our own loneliness, depression and despair and when that time comes we must make the choice to keep breathing against all logic and loss of hope and let the tide carry us to safer shores.