I imagine we’re all familiar with the 1994 film Forrest Gump. Forrest, the main character, has been described as leading a serendipitous life. At each turn it appears that Life, with all its twists and turns, is smiling down on him.
He managed to meet not one, not two, but three US presidents: JFK, LBJ, and Richard Nixon. He was constantly in the right place at the right time – even when it appeared he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like when he served and fought in Vietnam, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor. And after living through a terrible hurricane that damaged all the other shrimping boats along the Gulf, only to have his remain intact, he achieved more financial success than he could’ve ever imagined. Throughout the movie, there were many more examples of how he was present at the exact moment something incredible was happening – things that are written about in history books. And so his story goes.
A few years ago, while visiting Savannah, Georgia, I noticed a very familiar looking clock tower, but couldn’t remember where I’d seen it. The fact that I couldn’t place it was really bugging me, so I stared longer. An off duty Savannah tour guide saw me looking up at it. He approached me, and to my relief, explained where I had seen it: Forrest Gump had sat on the bench under it when the feather fell at his feet. Yes. That was it!
And in that moment, I remembered a phrase a friend once told me many years ago. While describing different highlights of his life, he had summed up certain points by saying with a chuckle, “I’ve pretty much Forrest Gumped my way through life.” [I'm guessing most of you have heard this phrase, and if not, you can imagine what it means. Urban dictionary.com states: Forrest gumped - a way of making it through a situation successfully through sheer dumb luck.]
At the time, I thought it a unique and somewhat colorful thing to say. But now, in pondering the sentence further, I wonder if it was just a modest thing to say? Or somehow, although clever in word choice, perhaps the truth and essence of it was really more about Trusting.
Did my friend really Forrest Gump his way through life, or had he Trusted?
That question begs the next:
Is it Serendipity or Trust?
I wonder, similar to my friend, if Forrest Gump truly ‘Forrest Gumped’ his way through life, or was there more involved? Did he trust in something larger than himself? In what appeared to be numerous blunders and serendipitous moments, did he fundamentally know/live/feel the concept of Trust? And more importantly, was the underlying message of Trust present in the movie, but as viewers, were we so wrapped up in the acting and scenes and dialogue, that perhaps we missed it?
At this point, you might be saying, “Okay, Leslie, remember throughout the movie, he kinda acted on impulse? He didn’t put much thought or feeling into anything?” Yeah, I remember that on the surface. But there was more to our beloved protagonist than what was on the surface. Forrest had an innate goodness to him. In any given situation, he did what we would consider, “the right thing.” Saving all of those soldiers, including going back for Bubba and Lt. Dan, dragging the unclothed Jenny off the stage with her guitar, always offering others a chocolate, taking care of his mother, and later Jenny, when she became ill, and on and on.
He didn’t appear to need to think about what to do, he just did it. He felt the need to run, so he ran until he no longer wanted to. He lived. He lived in the present moment, every moment.
Or, maybe right now you’re saying, “Hello…it’s a MOVIE!!” Yeah, I realize that, too. But I don’t believe that movies are designed for entertainment purposes only. No, movies that grab us like this one did, are as memorable as this one, and that we’re compelled to watch over and over each time we stumble upon it while flipping through channels – movies like this one are meant for more than entertainment. Don’t you agree?
Hmm…are you still in the camp who believes Forrest Gump didn’t give much thought or feeling to Life? I’ll leave you with this monologue from the movie:
Forrest Gump, speaking to Jenny’s grave:
You died on a Saturday morning. And I had you placed here under our tree. And I had that house of your father’s bulldozed to the ground. Momma always said dyin’ was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t. Little Forrest, he’s doing just fine. About to start school again soon. I make his breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I make sure he combs his hair and brushes his teeth every day. Teaching him how to play ping-pong. He’s really good. We fish a lot. And every night, we read a book. He’s so smart, Jenny. You’d be so proud of him. I am. He, uh, wrote a letter, and he says I can’t read it. I’m not supposed to, so I’ll just leave it here for you. Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away.”
Forrest Gumping his way through life? Or trusting in something bigger? Deeper? It doesn’t really matter which one he did. Which do you choose?
Apologies: I experienced major systems issues over the weekend. If you received old posts from Trust Life Today due to the restoration of numerous files, I apologize. Due to these issues, it forced me to review many of my previous posts…. which is when I ran across this one. I wrote this back in April of 2011 and wanted to re-share it with you.
Please consider sharing The Gift of Forrest Gump with your Facebook friends or Tweet away. Thank you! Love, Leslie