Third act in an incredible life of loss, tough lessons
My Life So Far
By Jane Fonda
Random House, New York, 2005
On December 21, 1996, actress Jane Fonda celebrated her 59th birthday and decided that her first two acts were over and now she was onto the third and she was ready to write about it.
Jane Fonda's biography depicts a person aware of her surroundings, overly aware of her shortfalls, under aware of her success and totally daunted by it all. She was born with every chance and no chance. Her mother committed suicide before she was a teenager and her family didn't reveal the circumstances of her mother's death.
Her father, although adept at playing sensitive roles, was unable to communicate with his children. Childhood trauma cannot go untreated and Jane suffered three decades of untreated bulimia nervosa.
She details her marriages, not just the surface issues, but also her underlying motivations. In the same vein, she takes us back in time to her movies and in doing that she visits the social standards, the trends of the time.
Her journey from the pretty prom girl, to the blue jeaned anti-Vietnam demonstrator is both privileged and raw.
Her determination to understand the meaning of the war, led her to working with the enlisted men, thus another label emerged: "GI Jane."
From the servicemen she gained these lessons:
"I learned that although we may enter the heart of darkness. If we are brave enough to face, then speak our truth, we can change and be set free."
Her high profile, gave her a special position and she used it to educate and inform the American public about a war she believed, they should no be in. It is a harrowing story of polluted politics, unethical world shattering decisions resulting in cruel and unmitigated carnage. She details specific conversations recorded from stars of the times - President Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and others. She travels to Vietnam.
The CIA follows her. The war ends, she is vindicated, but she has found her soul in understanding and supporting human beings from all walks of life.
Importantly that also includes herself.
She explores and explains her life in three parts and she names them, in order: Gathering, Seeking and Beginning.
Ultimately, she quotes the words of the Sufi poet Rumi: "The alchemy of a changing life is the only truth." Certainly, she says: "My own life is proof that flux is often creative, enlivening".