May I Be Frank: Journal

There’s a lot on our plate in this life, as the world awakens to the crisis we’re in. What is the most revolutionary thing one can do? Especially if there are a million choices of things that need doing, not just last year, but a couple of centuries ago? I think the most revolutionary thing each of us can do is reclaim our health. Or, preserve it, if, oh happiness and no Big Whoppers, we never lost it. The second most revolutionary thing is to help others reclaim or protect theirs.

There is a new film, May I Be Frank, that shows what this can look like. A big bellied, overweight, guilt-ridden, drug dependent but still quite loveable Italian-American named Frank Ferrante is taken on as a project by three young men who manage a Café Gratitude restaurant in San Francisco. This is a place that serves only raw, vegan, organic food. They sign him up, to eat only this food, for forty-odd days. They coach him through colonics, spats with his family, crying jags, and rare moments of break through and bliss. As the body becomes clean and light and the attitude shifts; as the guilt is disposed of by letting it surface and by seeking forgiveness, and as the foreskin is glimpsed for the first time in, maybe, a decade, we see the spirit, the Frank, that might have been; had not drugs, alcohol, anger and self-centeredness so overwhelmed it. It is a beautiful sight. The caring behavior of the three young coaches is the essence of the revolutionary spirit that Che Guevara meant when he said “True revolution is about tenderness.” This is true! They are a model for any young man, or woman, seeking one on one ways to be with the causes of misery in the world.

There are armies marching still, bullets flying, bombs being dropped, people being tortured and their homes demolished while they sit beside them, those left alive, wailing. But this is never going to change the world to a planet of peace. In fact, it is old news. Dead, just unburied, as acceptable human behavior. It is so obsolete as to be embarrassing. That is one reason it is difficult for us to look at our television screens. We are thinking: Are we, humans, as degraded as all that? All of us? Everywhere? Well, no. We’re not. Some of us have taken our unruly selves in hand, the prerequisite step for liberation and peace, and some of us have dedicated ourselves to helping our sisters and brothers along. Not for the “doing good” aspect, which is fine, but simply for the fun of it. It is finally, fun, for these three young men to help Frank find his true and radiant self. Or joy, that word for which I am convinced our planet was meant.

©2009 Alice Walker
First Day of Summer, 2009