Last night my son took me to see the recent cinematic release All is Lost. Robert Redford plays the part of a man alone on a sloop 1700 miles from the Sumatra strait. He is awoken by the sound of water rushing into the cabin. A large metal transport container adrift in the sea has collided with the boat, tearing a gaping hole in the forward hull just above the waterline. Redford’s character surveys the scene, then skillfully attempts to extricate his vessel from the partially submerged steel container, first with a gaff (the soft aluminum pole bends like a drinking straw) and then by the creative use of a sea anchor. Finally, the container breaks free.
From that point forward Redford’s character (he is never named) uses his wits and ingenuity to grapple with a series of setbacks, each seemingly more serious than the last. When the vessel is crippled in a violent storm, he salvages whatever essentials he can find and abandons ship to the relative safety of an inflatable life raft. With a sextant and a reference book on celestial navigation he plots his drift on a chart, moving closer each day to the major shipping lanes in the region.
Time and time again we witness the forces of nature beat the man down, while the man responds to the best of his ability. Hope is what keeps him going until the very end. Even in the midst of drifting down into the quiet depths of the sea, a ray of hope prevails.
The drama reminded me of what I have been wrestling with these past five months. From the time of the announcement that the medical practice which I helped to build over the past 20 years would be sold, I have been forced to rely on my wits for survival — first attempting to negotiate terms of employment with the new owner, then maneuvering to salvage what I could from the old. At every turn there were new obstacles to circumvent. I began a job search, went out on interviews, weighed options, sat and thought. When it became apparent I would have to leave, I devised an exit strategy. In the end a life raft appeared on the open sea.
This week I’m surveying the scene, salvaging those essentials that I will need for survival. Each day requires constant vigilance and adjustments. Yesterday I packed up the remaining files and the last of my books. Today I will notify my malpractice insurer of my departure date; tomorrow I will transfer my retirement funds to a new venue. I’ve written a final letter to my patients, folks I’ve cared for over the span of 20 years. Friday will be my last day.
All is not lost: a ray of hope prevails.