What does the movie “Cast Away” tell us about resilience in the face of the third wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong?

When I think about what Hongkongers are facing in the third wave of the pandemic, the movie, “Cast Away”, popped up in my mind. The movie was launched in 2000. It was about a man’s desperate effort to survive in an uninhabited island alone for four years after a plane crash. In “Cast Away”, Chuck Noland’s (by Tom Hanks) fiancée’s expectation that he would come home in the New Year’s Eve was shattered. In the third wave of the pandemic, our expectation that things are getting better was destroyed. This unexpected worsening of the situation might discourage us and make us feeling helpless.

As Chuck faced enormous uncertainty when being trapped in an uninhibited island, we are also facing radical uncertainty in many areas in our lives due to the pandemic. Everything in our usual lives has been paused, similar to Chuck’s cutting off from his life in Tennessee.  Due to social distancing, we could not attend group social gatherings and various community or business events. We might feel similar feeling of being isolated and sense of loneliness as Chuck felt in the island. In the face of the possibility of being infected COVID-19, we might experience anxiety and fear similar to Chuck’s worry towards his life being threatened in the island.

In the movie, Chuck showed extraordinary resilience in surviving during his four-year trap in the uninhabited island.  In fact, we may learn from him in the face of the third wave of the pandemic. First of all, we need to embrace and accept the current situation as Chuck accepted his fate of being casted away in a plane crash. We need to understand that unusual things may happen in our lives suddenly without any warning.  We have to embrace the radical uncertainty in our lives and face all the challenges with our inner strength.

As Chuck accepted his fate without grumbling, he faced his situation with creativity and practical strategies. He made himself a companion, the football with bloodstain named Wilson, to cope with his feeling of isolation and sense of loneliness. We may also find creative way to socialize with our friends, such as a virtual happy hour. Chuck also made use of the content of those FedEx boxes to help him meet his survival demands. With his practical strategies, he made fire and split coconut. We may also make use of what we have at home to cook delicious dishes or craft some art pieces.

Chuck also faced his situation with bravery and optimism. He left a FedEx box with wings printed on its surface as if he knew one day he might go back to Tennessee and be able to deliver the box to the owner. After being trapped for four years, he made a raft and sailed in the rough sea with hope and optimism that other ships or boats might find his raft and rescue him. We all need to have the same bravery and optimism in the face of the pandemic. Despite not knowing when the pandemic will be settled, we need to equip ourselves with strategies to be flexible in solving all the associated problems with bravery and optimism.

With an adaptive mindset, we manage our lives with resilience. We can enhance our resilience by maintaining our social connection, doing regular physical exercise, and practicing mindfulness. With realistic optimism, we appraised our situation objectively so that we could maintain a realistic outlook in planning for our future.

Chuck was able to return to Tennessee at the end of the movie. With resilience, bravery and optimism, it is foreseeable that we, as Hongkongers, can overcome this challenge in the near future.

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