How We Change: By Choice or By Experience

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change by choice or experience

Change in the Making

Tom Hanks has impeccable timing and his deadpan delivery made him a funny man with whom to be reckoned.  It is that timing, I believe that also makes him such a great dramatic actor.  His change from comedy to drama has resulted in him becoming one of the most celebrated and awarded actors of the current “movie star” generation.   One of my favorites was released in 2000.  Castaway found Chuck Noland (brilliantly portrayed by Hanks) stranded for four years on a tropical island when the FedEx plane, in which he was traveling, crashed into the ocean.

The Sky Was Falling

I recently felt like I walked off a scene from Castaway while purposefully stranding ourselves on a few tropical islands over the last couple years.  On my very first night in the Cook Islands, two years ago, I found myself sitting bolt upright in bed, a horrific sound rudely awakened me, a crashing thump outside our bungalow.  I searched my groggy head trying to figure out what it was, but dozed off before an answer came to mind.  Again, the terrible sound occurred and this time, we realized that the sky was falling.  And by sky, I mean coconuts.  Our little hut was surrounded by numerous coconut trees, heavy laden with fruit.  And thus, at any hour, coconuts fell from the sky.  There were even signs posted saying to be careful as you walked under the trees: “Beware of Falling Coconuts.”

Life Goes On

I laughingly recalled and saw myself in the scene from Castaway when Tom Hanks was fearfully awakened by falling coconuts.  His initial fear eventually overcome by guts and determination – as is most of the character’s journey throughout the movie.  A changed man, Chuck Nolan returns home to find that he is not the only person changed.  For life goes on.  People simply move on, because we must.

The Choice We Make

Does it matter if change is the result of experience or personal choice?  We face difficulties, struggles, and pain almost daily.  But we also face ease, comfort, and joy.  Choosing to see the glass full instead of drained is a choice we make as experiences drop and crash about us – outside our hut or even right on top of us.


There are times when we see a change as necessary.  A few too many pounds gained, bad habits may creep in raiding your health, procrastination, an unhappy relationship… These are things over which we have a choice.  But sometimes, an experience comes along that produces a change we were not expecting.   A serious accident, a war, a layoff or promotion, or even a visit to an island paradise.  Whether you choose to change or a coconut does that for you,  change happens.  And it may do you good – if you let it.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy



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