Cast Away

with Tom Hanks

Viewed August 17, 2002

Watching Tom Hanks struggle to survive on a deserted island started us thinking about control: what we can control and what we can't. That triggered a discussion of regret (Question #9), loss (Question #8), hope and hopelessness (Question #7), grief (Question #1), and accepting the changes in others (Question #3). Most of our discussion in one way or another revolved around the issue of control.

We noticed how difficult it is to let go of our desire to control other people when we see them doing things WE think they shouldn't be doing. ("If only they could understand how misled they are and see life the way it's really SUPPOSED to be...") Someone mentioned how she had tried to forgive herself when something had happened to her daughter and she hadn't known enough to step in and avoid the situation ahead of time. She said it's been hard to let go of the regret, but she's slowly accepting that she could only act on what she knew at the time.

That started someone else talking about how he had hurt himself physically, and was still trying to handle (and forgive himself for) the loss of mobility that had cost him. He said he was now at a crossroads (Question #5), and was trying to feel OK about not knowing where his life was going to lead him.

Someone else commented that she had tried to control everything in her life for a long time, and things only really started working when she was willing to let go and let others be who they are. She's now trying to remember to "Never answer a question that hasn't been asked (even though not every question is asked with words.)" When she's able to remind herself of that, she doesn't force her opinions onto others and allows them to grow in their own individual ways.

Another participant told how he had been in the Peace Corps for several years, and when he returned a lot of things were pretty much the same but HE had changed, and so he saw them differently. As a result, he had to release his attachment to his old friends and start building a new life that matched his changed self. Another person pointed out that even though we may think we know people (especially people we're very close to), we really never do because each of us is always changing. So she tries to remember that people change every day, and no matter who her loved ones were yesterday, she really has no idea of who they will be today.

Here are the questions:


  1. What tools do I need in order to get through grief?
  2. How do I get through adversity without attachments?
  3. How do I accept change in people I love while continuing to appreciate/cherish who they were?
  4. How has adversity/personal tragedy caused me to reevaluate/change what is important to me?
  5. "Where do I go from here?"
  6. What will it take for me to slow down?
  7. How do I muster hope in a hopeless situation?
  8. How have I handled the big losses in my life?
  9. How have I let go of regret for decisions I've made?