A Visit With Morgan Freeman– The Creative Power of the Word

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INT. LOBBY OF WORLD TRADE CENTER ONE— MORNING

Dame Judi Dench crosses the floor of the lobby with great aplomb with Jeff marching along dutifully by here side. Jeff veers toward the security desk to be cleared for admittance. Dame Judi continues on her trajectory toward the bank of elevators. When she notices that Jeff is no longer at her side, she turns to reel him in.

JUDI DENCH: Wherever are you going? Do keep up!

Jeff obeys and scurries to regain his place at her side. They reach the doors of a private elevator and Judi Dench places her hand over a light panel to the right of the doors. They open immediately. Jeff enters the elevator and turns to see Judi Dench standing firm outside the doors.

JEFF: Are you not going up with me?

JUDI DENCH: Not today dear, I have other things to accomplish.

She blows him a kiss and smiles as the doors close. The elevator does not move. Jeff notices a projected light “button,” about the size of a saucer on the wall. The button reads “up.” Jeff places his hand over the button and bends a bit at the knees as the elevator takes off like a rocket. The exo-walls of the first floor disappear and the view from the glass elevator causes Jeff to gasp. The beauty of lower Manhattan and the surrounding water and islands is breathtaking. The elevator stops at the 103rd floor and the doors open. 

INT. FLOOR 103 WORLD TRADE CENTER ONE— MORNING

The large room, which takes up the entire floor is as Jeff remembers it from his one previous visit except the enormous conference table has been replaced by two to large white modern chairs and a cubed glass coffee table. Morgan Freeman sits in one of the chairs and smiles as he sees Jeff has arrived. Morgan Freeman stands. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: Good morning!

JEFF: (crossing to shake Morgan Freeman’s hand) Good morning, Sir!

MORGAN FREEMAN: Please sit down.

JEFF: Thank you.

The two men sit and smile at one another appreciating the importance of the meeting and the significance of their relationship.

JEFF: (after a pause) I used to watch you on The Electric Company.

MORGAN FREEMAN: I remember.

Brad Pitt enters with a tray. He is wearing the uniform of a 1970s male flight attendant. 

BRAD PITT: (to Jeff) Good morning.

JEFF: Good morning.

Brad Pitt places two espressos on the table followed by a small bowl of brown raw sugar cubes and two tumblers of sparkling ice water. Each espresso saucer holds a curly lemon twist. 

BRAD PITT: Will there be anything else, Gentlemen?

MORGAN FREEMAN: No Brad, I think we’re fine. Thank you.

JEFF: Thank you very much.

Brad Pitt exits. 

JEFF: I’m so glad he’s finally found work.

Morgan Freeman laughs. Jeff picks up his lemon twist and pulls it tight over the small cup causing the oil from the rind to descend into the black oily goodness. He thin pops the twist into his mouth, chews it a couple of times and swallows. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: Would you like mine?

JEFF: Yes, please.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Two ole Southern Boys at the top of the bottom of Manhattan! What would they say down home?

JEFF: What would they not say down home?

Morgan Freeman laughs. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: (down to business) So how’s it going?

JEFF: Well— it’s been strange to say the least.

MORGAN FREEMAN: How so?

JEFF: The blog started out to be this chronicle of how a suicidal vet, me, was going to take a year to straighten out all the shit that was broken in his life. Then I went straightaway into a bunch of care-taking to allay the fears of everyone that became so, well—

MORGAN FREEMAN: They were afraid.

JEFF: Yes. They were afraid. I’m moving out of fear through the process of the blog and a LOT of personal work. It’s not been easy but my hope is that my being so sometimes embarrassingly public about the whole process can benefit others. I know that it has because they write to me and say so. A lot of vets think about putting the gun in their mouths. I’ve learned I’m far from alone in that.  Perhaps that has something to do with being programed to kill the enemy and if the brain becomes the enemy, the Marine’s first impulse may be to” kill it and let God sort out the details.”  I realized early on though, that suicide, no matter how seductive,  was not an option but I’m determined to find better reasons to live other than not hurting others by doing it. Then the blog became sort of a very cleverly disguised indictment of Adam.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Oh I don’t think that disguise was very convincing.

JEFF: Well, the fact that I was talking about Adam wasn’t disguised but I do think the fact that it was an indic—(realizing himself that he is full of shit) Okay, okay, so I spewed a lot of hurt and anger about Adam, yes.

MORGAN FREEMAN: That’s better. Honesty is important in all this. Even when it hurts— especially when it hurts.

JEFF: I put a WHOLE lot of myself into my marriage to Adam and invested a lot over those eight years. It paid off in life lessons but in none of the ways in which I was promised, the ways in which I had hoped for— in the ways that— a hope of a future that— got me through some incredible suffering along the way.

MORGAN FREEMAN: You think about Adam a lot.

JEFF: More than even a year ago! I don’t understand it. I prayed to have the thoughts removed but they continue to come. And I hate that! I think about him— well, not so much about just him but  about how I got screwed, and about the money I lost and all the shit he snuck around and did over the years and about how he’s spending that money with his husbands now—

MORGAN FREEMAN: Excuse me did you say husbands?

JEFF: Yes.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Poly—

JEFF: Polyamory. Yes. Hey, who am I to judge? But fuck, I can’t seem to find one man I want to be married to. Anyway, just waking up thinking about the bastard and all the shit he did— I mean it’s not like I’d like to be back with him—

MORGAN FREEMAN: Are you sure?

JEFF: (checks with himself)  I’m sure! I mean— I guess somewhere lurking in there is some idea that— no!  Fuck no! Fuck that piece of shit! He’ll get his!  I mean I guess that the regrets I have about having gotten with him in the first place make me— I don’t know, I guess any thought of getting back with Adam would be just another manifestation of what I did for eight years—  which was to hope for relationship with a version of him that he simply was not and never will be!  To try to fix him. And GOD is he broken. Look who’s talking. “Fix him!” Ha! I couldn’t even fix myself! Does any of this make any sense?

MORGAN FREEMAN: (lost in thought) Hmm?

JEFF: Are you even listening to me?

MORGAN FREEMAN: I sort of got stuck on “regrets.”

JEFF: Huh?

MORGAN FREEMAN: You said something about regretting that you ever got with him.

JEFF: I do! I fucking wasted eight years of my life!

MORGAN FREEMAN: Bullshit.

JEFF: What?! I’m forty-nine years old! I’m re-entering the dating pool with and older body and the wrecked psyche of eight years of abuse!

MORGAN FREEMAN: Bullshit.

JEFF: Stop saying that!

MORGAN FREEMAN: You stop saying that!

JEFF: Saying what?

MORGAN FREEMAN: Stop rehearsing the story over and over in your head with this version that has you so incapable of moving forward! He was an asshole. Fine. Assholes exist. Is your constantly reminding yourself and anyone who will listen how much he did you wrong going to change the fact that he was an asshole?

JEFF: Is. Is an asshole.  I’m not in touch with the son-of-a-bitch anymore thank god but I can assure you, wherever he is and whatever he’s doing, he’s still an asshole. He’s out there serving his own fucking needs at the expense of everyone around him just like his father.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Wow.

JEFF: What!?

MORGAN FREEMAN: You’re an angry young man.

JEFF: Not so young anymore.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Jeff, do you want to be free of all this? Do you want to be free of everything that has been holding you back?

JEFF: Yes!

MORGAN FREEMAN: Don’t answer so quickly. It’s a serious question with serious consequences. If you truly want to be free of limitation and move on into the life which you say that you want to live, you are going to have to make some sacrifices.

JEFF: But I’ve sacrificed so much!

Morgan Freeman closes his eyes and breathes. He’s fought this battle before. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: (patiently) Do you want to be free?

JEFF: (calmed, in ernest) I do!

MORGAN FREEMAN: Then free that beautiful mind of yours! Free it from having to relive every miserable thing that has ever happened to you in your life. Open it to the possibilities that lie before you! Those dreams and goals you have, when you do allow yourself to have them,  when you are not giving all your energy to waste, those dreams are unique to you— unique to your mind! If you die without seeing them come to fruition, they are going to die with you! You have wonderful ideas. You have stories in you that need to be told! Your desire to help others along the way is uncommon in a world so consumed by fear and greed. But if things are going to change for you, you are going to have to take control of your mind. You have been using the very thing that can save you, to destroy yourself.

JEFF: I know I have, but I just don’t know how to stop it! I try and I try and I continue to focus on all the shitty things that have happened and all the things standing in the way of—

MORGAN FREEMAN: STOP!

Jeff is stunned into stillness by Morgan Freeman’s firmness. 

Morgan Freeman leans in and looks deeply into Jeff’s eyes as if he is about to impart the wisdom of the ages. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: Repeat to me what you just said.

JEFF: Well Jesus! I don’t know what I said, you scared the shit out of me.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Yes you do. What did you just say?

JEFF: (after a moment of thought) I said that I foc— Oooooh, I know where you’re going with this.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Good.

JEFF: I was saying how I focus on the bad things that have happened to me and what stands in the way of what I want. You want me to stop doing that.

MORGAN FREEMAN: No. Well, yes, I do want you to stop doing that but that’s not why I asked you what you said.

JEFF: Then why?

MORGAN FREEMAN: Say what you said again, as simply as possible.

JEFF: (slowly) I focus on the negative.

MORGAN FREEMAN: May I see what you have written on your right biceps?

Jeff lifts his right arm to expose the tattoo on the inside of his upper arm. Morgan Freeman takes his glass of ice water and douses the tattoo. The inked letters flame up as if they had just been branded there. Jeff yells. The letters seem to glow brightly as the smoldering subsides. The words read, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

MORGAN FREEMAN: What do those words mean to you.

JEFF: Well, the significance of the tattoo is layered but its principle significance is to remind me of the creative power of the word.

MORGAN FREEMAN: Exactly. So if you believed that enough, at least for one day, to have it emblazoned on your arm, somewhere inside yourself you must have a firm belief that it is true.

Jeff meditates on the words of the tattoo, letting them sink in, deciding if they are really true for him.

JEFF: I do.

MORGAN FREEMAN: So before, when I asked you about what you had just said, you dove right in to a bunch— well, first you decided you knew what I was going to say which, incidentally you did not— but you went right into a bunch of self-recrimination around how much you don’t keep your thoughts positive or how much you do ruminate over the painful past— none of that really is my point!

Morgan Freeman takes Jeff by both hands. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: Jeff! Use the creative power of the word! Stop saying things like, “I focus on the negative!” Stop “putting the mouth on things” that you do not want and therefore continually reaffirming it in your life! You have to realize that by saying it, you are creating it! If you absolutely have to celebrate the fact that you used  to do something that you no longer  do and how much that has improved your life. Use the words mindfully and say something like, “I had a pattern of thinking negatively but now I focus on the positive things in my life.” It seems rudimentary but the benefits, as I believe you’ll see, are limitless. As soon as you start to police your language more carefully, I believe you will see where you have been using your words to create a lot of things you didn’t want in your life. But no more— right?

JEFF: Right.

MORGAN FREEMAN: And although giving our thoughts wings by speaking or writing them gives them more power, you need to understand that our thoughts are powerfully creative too. When you find yourself cooking up some negative fantasy— make the conscious decision to turn it around. Save the drama for the scripts! Maybe that way you can get paid for it! Oh! I almost forgot. With regard to that— how you coming with the scripts?

JEFF: I haven’t been.

MORGAN FREEMAN: And the workouts?

JEFF: I do get in there pretty consistently.

MORGAN FREEMAN: And the blog?

JEFF: (proud of himself) I’ve not missed a day since I committed to blog daily for a year.

Morgan Freeman stands and crosses to the elevator. He places his hand over a light panel to the right of the doors. They open and wait patiently. 

MORGAN FREEMAN: Here’s a suggestion. Try placing the four hours of script work before the workout and the blog. I think you’ll find that if you hit that mark and start succeeding at that goal on a consistent basis, those other goals will pretty much work themselves out.

He boards the elevator and turns to deliver a smile.

MORGAN FREEMAN: See y’all tomorrow.


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