Is Every Man a Castaway on their own Island?

Are you a sister, mother, daughter, girlfriend, lover, wife or friend trying to connect with a man who is so distant. Do you feel like you are a man stranded on an island and can’t find a way to communicate? You’re not alone.  

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“No man is an Island…” – John Donne

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cast·a·way [ˈkɑːstəˌweɪ]

                        1.  Cast adrift or ashore; shipwrecked.
                        2. A shipwrecked person.
                        3. A rejected or discarded person or thing.
                        4. A 2000 film staring Tom Hanks as a man stranded on an island.
.

I realized why I love the movie ‘Castaway’ when I watched it again for the (insert ridiculous number here) time this weekend. Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems analyst that is obsessed with time, and finds himself spending four years of time stranded on a island after his plane crashes in the middle of the ocean.

 

 

Alone.

 

 

My Grade 11 English teacher first introduced me to the ‘No Man is an Island’ quote. I got what English poet Donne was saying: we are all directly or indirectly connected and our actions affect one another accordingly. This is a core belief of mine. I remember, however, reading that lonely quote set adrift on the chalkboard and thinking to myself :

‘…but Men are islands‘.

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My colleague Tuval Dinner at the White Ribbon Campaign shares in his digital story ‘The Heart of a Boy’  what his anthem was at 14 yrs of age:

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I wont disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.

I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

- Simon and Garfunkel, I Am A Rock

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Just like the sound you first heard when you put that seashell to your ear, does this all sound familiar to you? Does this sound like a man, young man or boy in your life? Does this sound like you?

Someone is trying to reach you
Someone is trying to find you
Someone is looking for you, but you are not there.

Sending out an SOS

Maybe you are desperate to reach out to someone walled up in a internal fortress
Maybe you are hoping to find their message in a bottle
Maybe you are hoping for that breakthrough with your son, father, lover or friend

Sending out an SOS

Maybe you are trying to connect and communicate.
So many young men today are lost or stranded in a deserted island of manhood, and don’t know how to get in touch
Boys, at any age, desperate to find a way back but don’t know if they ever will

Sending out an SOS

Maybe you found that one person to open up to, but they drifted away

“What people forget is a journey to nowhere starts with a single step, too.” 

― Chuck PalahniukSurvivor

Some have tried to reach out and are adrift at sea, dehydrated of hope…drifting, helplessly in need of being rescued

 

They put me in a situation forcin’ me to be a man
When I was just learnin’ to stand without a helpin’ hand

I’m slippin’ I’m fallin’ I gots to get up
Get me back on my feet so I can tear shit up

- DMX – Slippin’

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When we think of men and story telling, the stereotype is that the story is loud, it is embellished, it is action-packed, it is over-the top. One of the things I love about Castaway is how it allows the story to breathe, it lets the story tell itself like a slow moving ripple in the water. There are volumes of words expressed with no words, just long, beautiful moments of silence. Men however, spend much time in silence. Silence among others or internally, they are stranded within themselves.

…and there are so many ways to be stranded

spending years holding onto something from the past
alone on an island of anger
emotionally missing, lost in your own world
consumed by work or obsessed with the pursuit of something we can’t find

Sometimes a man needs to lose himself, to find himself.

Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle [x2]

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life
But love can break your heart

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my [x3]
Message in a bottle [x2]

Sending out an SOS
Sending out an SOS
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In the movie, Chuck uses an Analemma (a solstice calendar) to keep track of the days, weeks, months and years that go by as he is stranded.
A man always obsessed with time, Chuck insists on keeping track of time. While many are all about being organized, well-planned and having things calculated, how many of us truly take into account how many days, months, or years we have left. What will be do with that, seemingly limitless, but limited amount of time we do have. Here is an unforgettable scene where Chuck Noland reflects on a dark, ultimate calculation and where he goes from here. 

“We both had done the math. Kelly added it all up and… knew she had to let me go. I added it up, and knew that I had… lost her. ‘cos I was never gonna get off that island. I was gonna die there, totally alone. I was gonna get sick, or get injured or something. The only choice I had, the only thing I could control was when, and how, and where it was going to happen. So… I made a rope and I went up to the summit, to hang myself. I had to test it, you know? Of course. You know me. And the weight of the log, snapped the limb of the tree, so I-I – , I couldn’t even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over *nothing*. And that’s when this feeling came over me like a warm blanket. I knew, somehow, that I had to stay alive. Somehow. I had to keep breathing. Even though there was no reason to hope. And all my logic said that I would never see this place again. So that’s what I did. I stayed alive. I kept breathing. And one day my logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in, and gave me a sail. And now, here I am. I’m back. In Memphis, talking to you. I have ice in my glass… And I’ve lost her all over again. I’m so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was with me on that island.

And 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?”

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So, which direction are you headed now? Are you setting a course, or adrift travelling whichever way the wind blows? At any given moment, we are standing at the crossroads. We can go one way and find Our way, or we can go another and drift further out to sea. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for help, admit you need help. It’s never too late to talk, to open up, to let go. Chuck Noland opened up to a volleyball…I know, but hey, it’s a start.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.

So, which way are you headed?

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2 thoughts on “Is Every Man a Castaway on their own Island?

  1. Pingback: Linkage Is Good For You – Octoberish | Society of Amateur Gentlemen

  2. Pingback: The Conversation We Aren’t Having: What Drives Some Men to Massacre? « Higher Unlearning

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