My Heart - My Life
All at once,
… I AM the character Trevor McKinney in “Pay it Forward”, a lonely heart in need, bursting with compassion, yet never seeing it’s fruition.
… I AM the title character in “Forrest Gump”, passionately devoted to those around me and implausibly advancing through life, yet incapable of fully caring for myself.
… I AM the character George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”, sacrificing my own opportunities and feelings for the good of others, yet unable to see purpose in it.
… I AM the character Chuck Noland in “Cast Away”, clinging to a life of hope deferred; lonely to the point of insanity; devastated by dreams shattered; and paralyzed at the crossroad of redirection.
… I AM the character Robert the Bruce in “Braveheart”, living and experiencing a life that inaccurately reflects my true identity, yet knowing that I am as close to freedom and fulfillment as a single right-decision or life-changing event.
… I AM the character Jamal Wallace in “Finding Forrester”, an unrefined talent in the hands of a master mentor. Furthermore, and almost paradoxically (for these characters share antagonistic and protagonistic roles), I am William Forrester, bound in fear by circumstance and self-isolation.
Call me Trevor Gump; call me Jamal the Bruce; and call me William Charles Bailey. I am everything of each of these characters, and yet I am none of them.
What’s interesting is the concept that these titles, for the most part, can be fairly traded amongst the characters. And in doing that, there are fascinating modes of examination. Compare and contrast their traits. Imagine one character in another’s place, taking with him his own potential and limitations.
Looking at the titles themselves, some seem to suggest the process of producing the outcome; others seem to point to the end-result itself; and still others might suggest both the process and the conclusion. Yet one stands out.
Forrest Gump, the title, is what it is. Forrest, the man, is who he is. Obliviously, he wanders about, deeply affecting the lives of countless others while they rhythmically push him back and then recant their positions to accept his love for them. He cites as fact the wisdom imparted to him by others. And in that, he is either profoundly aware, or innocently unaware (I do not know which), of the smallest changes in himself and those around him. O, that we were that simple, pure and effectual.
Which brings us to the close of what we know about these characters.
… Young Trevor McKinney dies tragically, disillusioned as to the validity of investing his heart in others.
… Forrest Gump ends as he begins, simple and innocent, loving unconditionally and living the best he knows how.
… George Bailey, after a lifetime of giving, receives the gifts of love, support, revelation and restoration.
… Chuck Noland receives a serendipitous invitation as a way to escape one of the toughest moments of his life.
… Robert the Bruce, by revelation or guilt, finally decides to pursue his true calling, disregarding whatever it might cost him.
… Jamal Wallace gives the gifts of freedom, integrity and companionship, and, in-return, reaps the intellectual, emotional and financial fruits of the crop he has sown.
… William Forrester also gives -- but he of his knowledge, companionship and wisdom – and in-return, is liberated from his bonds to realize the sunset of his life’s calling.
Fictional works often take us through thoughts and emotions that we all experience, or at least ones that we can relate to. But too often, we’re cheated by unrealistic solutions to real problems.
Each of us fanaticizes about unconditional love, reconciliation, restoration, forgiveness, justice and integrity, but, in this life, it’s too dangerous to hope in their fulfillment. Hope wagered on the uncertain is so often met by devastation and bitter disappointment. So, at best, and by experience, it seems more wise to pray-for than to hope-in the temporal.
The nobler and more-realistic path among these characters seems to have been taken by Robert the Bruce. Sure, it would be magnificent to follow after that example – if only I had the inspiration, opportunity and the fortitude to make such a decision, and equally as important, the full knowledge of exactly what I was choosing between.
The simpler, and yes, easier path is to identify with Forrest Gump. Forrest is who he is. I am who I am. And it’s not that saying “I am who I am” gives me license to accept paths chosen for me – though I can – it’s just a whole lot more peaceful and comfortable living that way. What’s so hard for me is whether and how and why I would choose a different path, and then, whether would I actually follow it.
True, historical leaders seem to have motivation or prophecy to call them out. What about the rest of us?