Finding Forrester: A Golden Child Better Ending Story

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This week after the horrific string of homicides in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, and Dallas, in thinking of the Golden Child archetype I find myself recalling the story of Finding Forrester. In itself this story depicts a ‘better ending’ scenario when the reclusive author William Forrester (Sean Connery) intervenes on behalf of his young protegee, the brilliant, inner city genius Jamal Wallace (Rob Brown) when he is accused of plagiary out of crass and ignorant racial bias. Surely a Black basketball player brought across town to bring a pennant to the prep school could not outshine his preppy White schoolmates at the scholastic tradition of writing. Yet, he does.

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Were  Jamal, represented as 17-18 at the time of the story that appeared in the year 2000, alive today he would be in his mid-thirties. I wonder, what might this talented author have to say to us, this week? Having lived through callous bigotry and appreciating the cultural camaraderie of his inner city family and friends–knowing deeply that Black lives do indeed matter!–, I do not believe he would be silent, today. Having befriended one man whose own race was not a deterrent to his becoming a mentor who also was open enough to learn equally from his younger mentee, Jamal would not be hasty, I believe, to resort to racial hatred himself.

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images from pixabay.com

I believe Jamal might exhort his reader to separate egregious error from the human condition itself. He might call upon our common potential for doing Good and attend not to the terror or carnage so much as to our coming together across all divides for all of us to contemplate and mourn this senseless violence.

Enough, he might title his message today. I only hope Jamal Wallace would not retreat to becoming a recluse himself. We need his awareness. We need to be revealed and healed. We need each of us, each of you, to look deeply within and then embrace one another, with hearts and arms open, with careful words that bridge the chasm of indifference.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/finding-forrester-2000

HOLD FAST TO YOUR DREAMS

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I have never forgotten two poems by Langston Hughes that I first encountered in a high school segment in my English class about the Harlem Renaissance movement in literature. Both these poems are about the importance of having and realizing your Dreams.  Whether you relate these poems to your personal LIFE DREAM or to a more political notion such as in Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream!” speech, the value of holding to your dreams and to your collective Dream is the same.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore, and then run?

Maybe it just stinks, like rotten meat…

Or crusts and sugars over, like a syrupy sweet.

Maybe it just sags, like a heavy load…

Or does it explode?

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The importance of having a Dream, of being a Dreamer, is fundamental in all approaches to self-development and to spiritual practices, isn’t it? Our imagination, the ability to creatively envision a ‘better ending’ to any situation you are in or that we face in society, is our greatest strength. To dream is to transcend, to free yourself from undue self-limitations, to soar.

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So here’s the second reminder from Langston Hughes  (http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/dreams-2/) :

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

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images from pixabay.com

 

Of Great Valor: Heroic Leaders

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When tragedy strikes a community, the Elder Leader rises from the masses as heroic individuals step up to the tasks of search and rescue, repair, and restoration. One of the clearest examples in our current times is responses to terrorist attacks on innocent, average people. When the attack on the Twin Towers wreaked havoc in NYC, firefighters and a host of other officials including police, politicians, journalists, psychologists, doctors, nurses, social workers and emergency vehicle personnel rushed immediately to the horrid scene to recover victims and tend to the injured of both body and heart. Many of these heroic leaders have sacrificed their own lives or health while trying to rescue as many as possible from the rubble. The Leader steps forward where others might shrink away from fear of a dangerous situation.

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Sometimes people who demonstrate heroic action, like a neighbor rushing into a burning house to rescue a child or a pet, might ask themselves later, “where did that come from?”, referring to their own instant courage and ability. It is at least in part from their Elder Leader archetype stepping forth to conduct their behavior.

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Then there are the driven Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Theresa, who step up in full exercise of their leadership strengths to bring about positive change by their examples for the entire world.

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So get to know your own Elder Leader persona. I invite you to dialogue with your Elder Leader part-of-Self this week, or to write about how and when your Elder Leader has been most active in your life.  The more you reflect upon your deep archetypal potentials, the better “integrated” they will become, and the more available to your conscious awareness and outlook.

And re-blogging from Finding My Inner Courage on this Martin Luther King Jr. holiday:

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I welcome your insights and stories!

 

 

Your Life As History

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Monday I felt I just had to go out to find the film Julie & Julia, as it is an appropriate parallel story for an enterprising author and for any blogger, of course. I streamed the movie and found the most relevant element for me to absorb was about the long process Julia Child undertook to transform American sensibilities in relation to more than just French cooking.  She was introducing a style, literally making palatable an attitude as well as a culinary revolution akin to the sexual liberation movement that developed in tandem with this European flair.

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What is a writer or an artist if not an innovator and somewhat of a provocateur? Julia’s persistence over many years of developing her talents and composing her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), served her well (not a pun! well, maybe so).  She merged American gastronomic desires for nouveaux choses with traditional rural French cuisine in a manner that freed not only the taste buds but as well the fertile imagination of Americans after WWII had already begun to open up for us new territories of European philosophical thought and literature/ culture. Spiritually I must infer this was no accident. Julia Child was the right person for the task she undertook with her grace and fortitude plus her special brand of loving, even lovably awkward humor.

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The parallel mythic aspects of Julie and Julia in relation to my own current life activity are obvious to me but that’s personal; not worth expounding here. Her perseverance and persistence despite the opposition she first encountered to a new approach that blended sensibilities rather than merely presenting one style in a didactic way offers lessons for many of us.

It was telling to see how Nora Ephron (screenwriter) drew parallel mythic connections in her screenplay between Julie Powell and Julia Child’s lives quite explicitly, fusing two historical epochs of an American in Paris from 1944-1961 with New York City in 2002, just after the 2001 Twin Towers disaster.

Our own story can merge with history itself in fundamentally useful ways. Julie Powell’s blog about cooking all of the recipes from Julia Child’s book in a year sparked the imagination of readers ready for a fresh inspiration to go beyond routine with a license to revitalize their passions. Powell actually worked for an agency helping victims from the Twin Towers attack to recover their own lives, so it is fascinating how she was led to intersect her own life and imagination with the life and times of Julia Child. Are there any accidents? I believe in co-incidence instead.

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So, where does your Life Story stand positioned in the ongoing flow of human history? I know, that’s a big question. But of course our personal life history narratives are and must be understood at some level as products of History itself.

But how to unpack this? Just a brief musing (I invite you to write your own reflections…):

Born in 1954, I experienced the 1960’s while in highschool in Lewiston, New York. I started a Human Relations Club there to honor and punctuate the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. within a mainly “Lilywhite” community. This along with a 10th grade class by one of my best early mentors (my English teacher, Mr. Scelsa)–in which for half the year we studied the Black literary Renaissance–led me to develop a sensitivity to issues of diversity in all forms. This was at a time when openness to new ideas was beginning to flourish. The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkle, and my next and lifelong mentor (who knows whom he or she is…) led me to want to be a writer, to make a contribution, to “make a difference” really in any way I might. So that led to 21 years of college, studying literature/philosophy,linguistics and cultural anthropology and then moving on to university teaching. These multidisciplinary threads and historical influences have coalesced to an interest in the interplay between cultural psychology and personal cognition, with the notion that we can free ourselves from self-limiting thoughts and behaviors, if we so choose.

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So, what about you? How does your Life Story intersect with History? What are the consequences?

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I welcome your insights and stories!