Life is Like: A Forrest Gump Photo Reenactment

It’s about the journey, not the disability.

Obstacle: a thing that blocks one’s way or hinders progress.

Society views disability as an obstacle. My experience feels much different.

For Forrest, “Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them.” For me, Hanna Agar’s photos do that. It has been such an honor (and a blast) working with her.

US Soccer Goalie Tim Howard set a World Cup record with 15 saves against Belgium. After the match, it was said he overcame Tourette’s Syndrome to become a world famous athlete. But the reality of his success is probably much different. Oftentimes people who have Tourette’s also possess preternaturally quick reflexes. This is on top of the tools they develop very early on to suppress tics; focus and timing. Self control. These tools probably contributed to Howard’s miraculous goal blocking abilities. Perhaps the societal pressures to appear normal as a child with Tourette Syndrome are incongruous with the skills needed to become a successful athlete.

And this is what Forrest Gump represents to me. The plot of Forrest Gump relies on Forrest always finding his way into situations and succeeding due to his varying disabilities. Forrest’s disabilities are his toolbox. Or to be completely obvious, Forrest’s toolbox is his box of chocolates. This assumption in the plot shows what I find to be the reality of disability. It’s a journey, not a destination.

“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbowl County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going. When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go… you know… I went.”

About a year ago, I decided to start a little blog. So I wrote a post. And when I finished, I thought maybe I’d write another. And when that was posted, I thought I’d become an advocate. So I started a petition. And that’s what I did. For no particular reason I just kept going. When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go… you know… I went.

Life is like a box of chocolates. What’s in yours?

These photos were taken by Hanna Agar:

I immediately felt very drawn to this project idea when Liz mentioned it to me. It felt very authentic to her mission and personality while having a very loved and recognizable cultural reference that allows it to feel familiar and new at the same time. For me these images really represent the challenges we are faced with throughout life and the amazing ability people like Liz have to take those challenges and channel them into inspiration and strength to power them onto a new path and a new journey. A journey they can share with others to create positive changes in individuals and society. These images are about the inspiration, optimism, and motivation that finds us in unexpected places and unwanted circumstances.

This is not Hanna’s first foray into photographing disability beautifully. Her website is filled with beautiful monsters. She is incredibly talented and so very kind. If you get the chance, I hope you will check out herTools of Life project.

Also, will you check out my petition. It is my hope that for about 3 seconds you will feel amused… until you realize that I may actually have a point. And then you will sign.