From the moment we see Forrest sitting on a bus bench with muddy Nikes, a half eaten box of chocolates and placing the feather at his feet between the pages of his Curious George book, we see he’s a unique person. Most could quickly write him off as “special” and tell their kids not to stare or talk to him. His southern drawl mixed with his slightly jarring speech is unusual, but the way he’s able to recollect his story with such a modest kind of innocent passion and gusto proves that there is much more than meets the eye.
Forrest (Tom Hanks) tells the story of his life, beginning from his childhood with braces on his legs. We see the lengths his mama (Sally Field) goes through for Forrest to feel like a normal child and we meet his first and only friend, Jenny (Robin Wright as an adult). They go together “like peas and carrots” and grow up. Forrest is able to go to the University of Alabama on a football scholarship since he “can run like the wind blows.” After he graduates he joins the army and is sent to fight in Vietnam. Forrest’s life intersects many important events of the 1960s and ’70s, including integration, Vietnam and Watergate.
Like Forrest, we will all have good times in our lives, bad times, accomplishments and times where all we can do is run. These are all just chapters in our lives.
One of my favorite parts of the film, is when Jenny asks Forrest about being scared in Vietnam. When he answers he doesn’t really talk about those fears, instead he tells her about some of the most beautiful things he’s seen in his time. It’s not that he avoids the question, but perhaps his perspective in life is coming from complete optimism, without even realizing it. If only we could all have that sort of focus on life and everything around us.
I’ve seen this movie, about as many times as Forrest has had a Dr. Pepper, but it still tugs at my heart and brings a few tears to my eyes. A good friend of mine and I once had a great conversation about this movie (he said he enjoys this blog and for that I can’t be more grateful). Anyway, we talked about how Forrest shows us a great way to live. We talked about how great it would be to just get up and run for three years and have great things just sort of fall in our laps. We remembered his struggles as well as his triumphs, laughed at how he felt a little annoyed at meeting four presidents and just took the film as a way to approach life.
Today, Forrest just made me feel alright that I’m in a running chapter of my life. I don’t know where I’m headed, but my feet are moving somewhere and that’s just fine by me.
“Why are you doing this? I just felt like running.”