The Man on the Bench

This weekend I was blown away by a movie.  It was not a new movie, but it delivered a message that was very important to me.  Hopefully you will be inspired in a similar manner.


Welcome Back

I hope that everyone had a great weekend.  We had some great weather in this part of the northeastern US.  I had a chance to get out for a few walks and also saw some very good movies.  In preparation for the coming cold weather I made a couple of batches of chili using my homemade chili powder and using dried beans instead of canned ones.


So much for me.  Drop me a note and tell us what you did with your weekend.


Let’s take a look at a great movie that I saw this weekend.


A simple man

I did not see the movie Forrest Gump when it originally ran in theaters.  I saw it once on videotape several years after it came out.  I remember being impressed by the movie but I was not moved as deeply as I was when I viewed it again this weekend.


Forrest Gump is a simple man.  The movie opens with him sitting on a bench waiting for a bus.  A woman sits down next to him on the bench and he starts to talk to her.  It is immediately clear that Forrest Gump does not have a great deal of intelligence.  At one time people like him were called slow.


However, as Forrest tells his story to a succession of people who share the bench with him, it becomes very clear that what he lacks in intelligence he makes up for with insight.  As Forrest Gump tells his story in his simple and unassuming way it becomes clear that he was a witness to many of the most important events of what shaped America from the 1950’s to the 1980’s.


When you only have a hammer

There is a saying along the lines of “if the only tool you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail to you.”  I attempt to keep this in mind when I start to view everything from the standpoint of my two concepts of true self and false self.  However, I think those concepts can be illustrated quite well here.


What struck me about the character of Forrest Gump was how he was able to see though the false self of almost everyone around him.  He did not confront people about their false self.  He accepted the false self but did not let it affect what he wanted to do.


Forrest Gump casually tells us why people are doing what they are doing.  He describes someone’s false self behavior and lets us see how that behavior is getting in their way.  Friends like Lieutenant Dan and Jenny get involved with self destructive substance abuse and sexual behaviors.  Forrest does not judge them for their behavior – he sees the true self inside that is working to get past the destructive behavior.


Never once do we find that Forrest Gump is considering taking on any of the false self behaviors of those around him.  He looks at the situation in front of him and decides what to do based on his internal compass.  That compass always points towards compassion and caring for those around him, keeping his word, and doing what he can to give to others.


I do not think that the idea of taking something ever crossed his mind.  He always gave and used whatever came his way to move onto the next phase of his life.  I guess he figures that what ever he got was a result of what he gave.  If he gave he would always get something of value in return.  For Forrest Gump, no further thought was necessary.


What moved me

The music in a movie is very important to me.  Growing up during the 1960’s and the 1970’s was a time of great change in the popular music.  The music of my youth was very emotional and important to me.  That music got me through many dark days.  There were years that my only emotional release was the music.


The music of this movie was like the soundtrack of my youth.  The songs always seemed to be the best ones for the scenes in the movie.  As I watched Forrest going through his deeply moving and emotionally challenging times, many of my pent up and unresolved emotions were flowing through me.  I had not recognized that I still had so much stuff locked away inside of me.


Upon reflection it seems that I may have tied the music of the period to my self destructive behavior.  Just like Jenny and Lieutenant Dan, I am still working through that behavior.  The music must have triggered some of the sadness associated with my self destructive period.


Monument Valley

Another very personal part of the movie was the scene shot in Monument Valley, Utah.  This was during the part of the movie when Forrest was running across the country.  For no apparent reason he decided to stop as he was running through Monument Valley.  Follow this link to see a picture of the spot where he actually stopped.


Monument Valley has been important to me.  As an avid fan of movies directed by John Ford I know this scenery well.  He directed some very famous westerns in this area.  The two most famous ones are probably Stagecoach and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.


Several years ago I spent three and a half days in the area.  It is some of the grandest scenery that I have ever experienced.  I am almost always overcome with emotions when I view pictures of this area.


One last note

The last thing that I want to discuss regarding this movie is the scene where Forrest Gump asks Jenny to marry him.  When Jenny does not say “yes” Forrest asks her if it is because she does not love him.


As I watched the movie I realized that it was not because she did not love Forrest.  Jenny could not marry Forrest because she did not love herself at that point.  No one says this.  No one even implies this.  This is just my analysis.  Please tell me why you think Jenny does not agree to marry Forrest.  I think this is a fascinating part of the movie and would love to hear your thoughts.


That is all for today.


Until tomorrow –


Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.



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