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Why Forrest Gump Ran

by Emon Hassan on September 12, 2008

When you decide to go for it, when you decide to make your move, when you pick up and run with it there’s less time to think, less time to worry, less things to take into account, and therefore less opportunities to miss.

Take for instance, the Sunday before the last one. Went out to buy bagel. Sky seemed unusually blue. I’d hoped to go to this balloon festival  until I realized it was 7 hours away by bus. Would’ve been a heckuva thing to photograph those balloons in that blue background. Came home and couldn’t stop thinking about it. The night before, in case you missed it, I had my moment which led to my deciding that if you feel like it, go for it. What fueled the whole thing even more was a piece on Sunday Morning  about Richard Branson. It showed clips of all his adventures in life and business; his attitude towards life is simple: it’s too short. He has a book called Screw It, Let’s Do It.

And here I was a couple of hours later thinking of a reason to go out and take photographs. Why couldn’t I say ‘screw it’ and take off! Taking after my non-balloon experience I thought there might be something to that formula. Plan to go see something and see what happens in between. Found out there was a Afro-Brazilian Martial Arts dance presentation – Capoeira – in Central Park at 1pm. It was 12:45pm.

Fuck it, lunch be damned, I was off. It was past 2 when I got there. Never been to the Great Hill section before so it took a bit to find that spot. The dance was over but the dancers were still hanging out because they still had a little mini-workshop type of thing with the audience, mostly women and children. The musicians and dancers played music and danced. The crowd joined in, good or bad. They were having fun and that’s all that seemed to matter.

One of the organizers told me about other programs going on in the park. A salsa concert on the East side of the park – I’d been there a couple of times before. What the heck, I’ll walk over there. I still had to pay a visit to this place I decided I’d visit before heading over to check out Warehouse Theater perform Pericles. On my way, spotted a couple trying to fly a kite.

When I finally reached the section where the concert was taking place, the little section was packed with people of all ages and colors, dancing and moving to the beat. I snapped away. I was taking close-up shots of the musicians when I realized the Cuatro player looked very, very familiar. Could he be? Nah, a free concert surrounded by tons of people, don’t think so. That’s when the singer spoke:

“Please put your hands together once again for Yomo Toro!!” Crowd cheers. What the fuck did he just say!? The Yomo Toro?!! [watch him rip it] I had to move in. Now I had my baseball cap, my new gear bag (more on that on another post), and a look that said, “excuse me, I’m here on an assignment.” I walked right through the crowd and parked myself couple of feet away from the guy. Oh, man, never have I taken so many pictures of one person – except Nicole’s. Sadly, no videos. When I’d gone up the band was playing it’s last number. Got to see Yomo Toro rip it up with a solo reaaally close.

Concert ends. Everyone’s happy as a motherfucker. Women, young and old, took pictures hugging and kissing Toro. I wondered how many thousands of kisses he’s gotten over the decades. In this case they weren’t askin’; they went right up, took pictures hugging and kissing him. He talked, laughed, and shook their hands – let them kiss him. I’m standing there going: wouldn’t it be the dumbest thing in the world to be this close to Yomo Toro and not have a picture with him? I can’t have epiphanies and proceed to be a dumb-fuck. I had to do something about it.
Yomo Toro and Mi

Time to exit the park. I gots to make it downtown. I haven’t eaten yet and it’s 4:30 pm. But what is it I hear near the exit? Drums, eh! Time to reach out for my cam – yes, that one.



Done. Hopped on the 2 train, destination Canal St. On the train there was a guy sitting next to me who’s wearing an Obama shirt. I wondered why everyone across from us was smiling at him. So he is an Obama supporter. He answers a lady , “No, I’m just a fan.” Then he corrects himself, “Fan’s not the right word, I’m a supporter.” Still, why were they smiling? At the next stop he got up and switched to a seat opposite of me. I realized: his broken arm resting inside a sling which was covered with Obama pins.

My downtown mission not quite working as I’d planned I started walking over Broadway uptown. Somewhere I’ll stop and eat. Haven’t had Shwarma in ages. Maybe that. Ended up giving in and eating at Pluck U. – a joint near Thompson and Sullivan. Eh. Walked out and notice a Shwarma place right across the street. Fucking hell, all I had to do was look to my left before deciding to walk in at Pluck U.

Was home an hour later. Watched the great presentation by JJ Abrams – creator of LOST – for TED Talks on the bus.Two hours later, a friend tells me how he got lost in the woods while hiking. That story, I sat there listening, captivated, till…
…1 am. August had gone to bed and September was getting to work.

So why did Forrest Gump decide to run?  This is one of those ‘if you have to ask, you’ll never know’ type of thing. Remember what he’d found when he went running. I’m not sure if you have gone through a moment like that or not but that weekend I had this urge to take off and just run, run, and run. The physical nature of the urge surprised me. I’m not athletic by any means. There had to be a reason why I felt that way.

I realized why, couple of days later. My mind had taken off running earlier and the body decided to catch up a little late.  Staying in one place, not just physically, will never get you anywhere. You have to go off and experience things and let things surprise you.

In my own tiny way, my taking off that afternoon without expectations or guarantees was a lesson that the world won’t home-deliver experience, you have to go chase it. If I hadn’t taken off that day on a whim, the 50-something photos, video, and dozens of other moments I didn’t get to capture….would’ve never happened.

Get up. Get out. Get it. And get good at it.

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