Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Goosecross Cellars, Yountville, California, USA

May 16, 2017

This essay, Crossroads, is the companion piece to Junction: A Pre-Possibility.

I am indebted to John Frederick "JFH" Hammond who inspired this conversation.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

© ImageMovers / Playtone - 2000
Cast Away - The Movie
There's a pivotal scene at the climactic, dramatic conclusion to the movie Cast Away  when a FedEx executive Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) comes to a complete stop in his iconic FedEx van, at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere. He's just not moving, stopped at these crossroads, not sure which road to take next. It's an analogy for not being sure which road in life  to take next.

Chuck has lost almost everything a man can possibly lose. He's lost years of his life stranded ie marooned (that's cast away)  on a deserted Fijian island* - damned, sentenced to be a prisoner in paradise, he almost loses his life there. Now, impossibly rescued by a passing ship, he's back, only to discover his wife, whom he loves very much (and who also loves him very much), having given him up for dead, has married someone else. That's where he's at. He has no idea  which direction to go in next. He epitomizes a man at the crossroads - figuratively and  literally.

Yet in spite of it all under the circumstances, given the man he's discovered himself to be during his ordeal, he's strangely collected. Admittedly that statement is my interpretation of the action. There's nothing in the screenplay to actually express or confirm this. So it's my reading into the scene that while his future is totally uncertain, he's strangely collected (Tom's is an intense role).

As an analogy, being at a crossroads like this, occurs for me as one of two possible (and by now, both familiar) situations. The first is being trapped in the middle of ie at the crossroads of solving a slew of problems. When I'm in this situation, I'm victorious over some, and I'm failing and / or playing catch up  with others. But listen: there's nothing unusual about this - not for me, not for you, not for anyone. Isn't living (at least for the most part) a never-ending series of problems to be solved / crossroads to be negotiated, yes? In a very real sense, we're always  going to be stopped at ie we're always going to contend with crossroads. There's no avoiding it.

But the other situation is the more subtle situation, and a waaay  more interesting one to be in. It's the one in which, in my life, I've finally solved such a mass of the underpinning, underlying problems that for all intents and purposes, I can say all  past and current problems are solved ie dealt with. If that's so, then where does that leave me? Why, also  at the crossroads, of course! But this time, they're crossroads of a very different nature. This time, the choices I make aren't pertaining to which problems to solve next. Rather they're pertaining to which possibilities  to invent  next. The former are crossroads which I'm circumstantially coerced to confront. The latter are crossroads I get to entertain freely of my own choosing ie over which I have bearing and mastery. Now these  are the crossroads I always  want to stop at.

Life presents us with crossroads. All  the time. Ongoingly. Just don't lie about it. None of us has any choice in this matter: there will  be crossroads. How-ever  ... will they be crossroads of problems to belabor? or will they be crossroards of possibilities to invent? That's the choice. And it's the choice that's up to each of us to make.

* Cast Away  was filmed on Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Fijian islands. It's sited off the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island.

[source: wikipedia]

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