• Paula Tiberius

Understanding Forrest Gump

First let me apologize that this blog will not be about my rental Prius and my new phone. That topic is pre-empted by newer, more pressing news. A feather landed on the windshield of my car today.

The first time I saw Forrest Gump, the movie, in a movie theater, I was so annoyed by its schlockiness and cutesiness and constant coincidence that I could not stop rolling my eyes. I don’t want to say that I hated it, because I’m not the kind of person who hates movies, ever. Hate is such a strong word, and, having made a film myself, I know how fucking hard it is. There’s always something good to say. And certainly that is true of Forrest Gump.

However, I remember many years ago, sitting in the theater as the opening credits rolled, and that stupid white feather began its flighty devil-may-care-I’m-a-symbolic-feather path. I can’t remember exactly what it flew around and through, but it was wafting on the wind, being tossed this way and that, just as the protagonist of the movie would soon be doing in the world at large. I rolled my eyes at my friend, leaned over and whispered, “I’m already annoyed, and I’m already sure it’s going to win Best Picture.” It did.

Flash forward to today. I’m in my rental Prius stuck in a traffic jam, listening to the Stephanie Miller show on K-TLK 1150 am, and right then and there the opening credit sequence of Forrest Gump was recreated just outside my window! There was this feather, a white fluffy feather just like in the movie, wafting this way and that, high in the air. It swooped toward the car in front of me, then darted to the side, then it circled around the neighboring car’s antennae. I barely had time to register what the scenario was reminding me of when suddenly, swoosh! Or maybe Wphhh! I don’t know what the sound was exactly because my rental Prius is very soundproof, and besides, I was listening to the Stephanie Miller show.

But lo and behold, that damn smug feather landed right in the middle of my windshield! It was so poignant! It was so poetic! Out of all the vehicles in that traffic jam, that feather happened to land on me! I was chosen by this feather!

Everything clicked into place and all at once I understood why people love that schlocky movie so much.  They could rise above its clunky metaphors and ridiculous vignettes to see the underlying message that there is beauty and wonder in the very nature of serendipity.

People are so sincere, it’s truly wonderful. Okay, I’m rolling my eyes slightly, but I was really touched by that feather.

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