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Tuesday, November 22, 2011


     telling his story

Last night I saw FORREST GUMP again, the 3rd time since it was new. Several years had passed since the last time. Good feeling all the way through. I identified so closely with Forrest that by the end I said to myself, "I am Forrest Gump." I don't have his experience. I don't have his interpretations of experience. I don't have his mind. But I do have his bewilderment at everything going on around him. Shuffled through this world by necessities I can't avoid, my own way of interpreting experience as bewildered as Forrest's, I did a little bit better than him when it came to learning to fill out forms, but not where attitude toward life is concerned. Forrest's attitude was my attitude in early childhood, before it was hardened, twisted, wrung out and tossed into a hot tumbler to dry. These sorts of things happened to Forrest too, but they didn't harden him. They bewildered him all the more.

Perhaps this bewilderment motivated me to higher education and reading. I wanted to learn to understand my experience and be able to read what is going on around me as accurately as possible. I can't say I'm better off than Forrest Gump because of it. His girlfriend, Jenny: somebody else would have broken both of her arms. Forrest saw the light in her and his love was wide open God-type love. Ive never been able to love so unconditionally. Seeing her through Forrest's eyes, she's the most wonderful angel there ever was. And she was. He knew the Jenny within, the only Jenny he knew. The judgments everybody else got excited about, like whore, junkie, freak, were invisible to Forrest like the Jenny within was invisible to everyone but Forrest.

His chance involvements with presidents and political events of the 60s and 70s made a clever unto artful look at the time from Kennedy through Ford in the different American ways of interpreting our national experience. Forrest, himself, never took to opinions, making him a fresh, candid eye to see our shared national events with. An inscribed photograph of Marilyn in the White House men's room. Forrest showing Johnson his scar on his but-tocks, like Johnson was then famous for showing his belly scar after a surgery. Racial matters had no meaning for Forrest. He sat next to Bubba on the bus and they became friends for life. It was so right of Forrest to give Bubba's family Bubba's half of the shrimp boat earnings after Bubba had been dead from Vietnam several years. I hoped the production crew had an air mattress out of sight behind her. She fell straight as a board backwards. Only a martial artist could make that move and not be hurt.

His involvement briefly with the hippie pretend revolutionaries of the late 60s, Forrest took seriously. He didn't like their disrespect and hated how they treated his friend, Jenny. The black pretend revolutionaries had their say and ran him off with their exaggerated testosterone poses. Forrest found the System the least objectionable of the alternatives. He had been through the war; he knew that macho posing gets nothing done. When you're out in the field with rifles popping, you don't strut your stuff. You're just as vulnerable a target as the company nerd. Forrest might not have been too bright, but he was no fool. "I'm not a smart man, but I know what love is." His mama taught him in easy to remember sayings how to live in this world. She was a single mom raising a boy without a daddy, doing the best she knew how. In that sense, she was a home schooler. He had to go to school by law, and it all went over his head, but mama taught him how to live by the heart. Perhaps, because he was weak in mental power, he became strong in heart power. Forrrest Gump didn't have enough power of the mind to override the heart. Mama taught the heart. School taught the mind. School missed, and mama made a direct hit.

The last time I saw Forrest Gump was a long time before netflix. I've seen many of the finest films ever made, have seen a tremendous number of a great variety of films. This didn't diminish Forrest Gump a bit. It is in the league of the very finest film making. I love that it is a visualization of his story told on a bench at a bus stop in Savannah, Ga, to anybody that would or would not listen. The black woman was listening, though pretending not to. The round-faced white man, who looked like Jonathan Winters, was pretending to listen, but wasn't really paying attention. The elder woman he told the last part of the story to, let a bus go by so she could hear more. Run, Forrest, run. He ran all over the country. He ran on the Blue Ridge Parkway between rows of old-timey rail fences just a few miles from my house, between 5 and 10. He would have run within a half mile of my house a few minutes earlier in his run. I love it he ran so close to where I live. I know his story is fiction, and also is not. The movie was an open hearted assessment of our world and drew no conclusions. Seems it comes out the same if we interpret or if we don't.


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