For me “My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates…” is, and probably will always be, the most iconic movie line of all time. There are a few that come close, “Always” from Harry Potter, “Not all those who wander are lost” from Lord of the Rings, “Are you not entertained”from Gladiator. But Forrest will remain my favourite. And its probably not the only line from the movie that find myself reciting every so often. I watch the movie at least once a year, often more. And each time I do, I inevitably find myself taking something new away from the movie. I think each of us have that one movie we live by, and for each of us it is probably for different reasons, so let me try to explain what the famous Mr Gump has taught me over the years.
1. Immerse yourself in the relationships that really matter…
Best good friends are hard to come by (although Forrest did meet both Jenny and Bubba riding the bus) so when you find them, you got to hold on to them. Spend time with them, get to know about them and their hopes and dreams, learn from them and respect them. To have best good friends you have to first be a good friend, and not just to the people you know but to everyone you meet because you never know who your next best good friend will be.
2. Don’t be afraid to love…
It is probably the bravest thing you will ever do, braver than going off to war or meeting the president because it has the potential to be the reason for so much pain. But love anyway. And be sure to express your love to the people who matter. Talk to them, write them letters, eat together and read bed time stories. You may be lucky and have them all of your life, or only for a part of it. But while they are with you love them and treat them as a blessing, not to be loved in return but because you can (even if you are not a smart man).
3. You can’t always protect the ones you love…
As much as you would want to save your nearest and dearest from any pain, you must let them live their own life and make their own decisions. You have to let them grow into their own selves because you cant always be there when they need protecting. And if you let them, they may even surprise you by all they can achieve. Forrest’s mom learned that with Forrest, Forrest learned that with Jenny.
4. Do what you think is right and one day they will thank you…
Sometimes however, contrary to point 3 above, you have to do what you think is right in moment. You never know, you might save somebody’s life or change it forever. Do it, not for the gratitude, but because it is the right thing to do. And one day you may eventually be thanked.
5. You will never know what you can achieve unless you try
Whenever life gives you the opportunity to try something you have never done before give it a try because you will never know how good you may be otherwise. Approach everything with open-mindedness, offering no excuses and you will most probably exceed what you thought you could do. Whether it be ping pong, shrimping or running, start and you will get better along the way.
6. Sometimes you just have to do
There will be situations or even extended periods where you will need to do whatever you are told. That’s not to say you cannot excel at doing it though. If you focus on what needs to be done in the situation you are tasked with, and you do it well, you will come out the other side the better for it. And when it is done you can move on to the next thing…
7. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel
When you feel like you need to run away you should run. To the end of the block, out of town, as far as you need to. Or if you need to throw rocks at an old abandoned building, throw those rocks. And when you feel like you are done running, when you have thrown all your rocks, you can go back home. We all of deal with our emotions in our own unique way so the important thing is not how we deal with them, but rather allowing ourselves to deal.
8. Follow through on what you say you will do
You don’t have to make a promise to keep one. Sometimes a simple agreement is enough to commit you to a task. So when you are in the position to follow through you have to. Being a person of your word in a world that is full of non-commital “I’ll see” or “I’ll try” may make you seem foolish to everyone else but it will set you apart.
9. Take the time to notice the beauty that surrounds you
When last did you take the time to watch the rain fall or the sun rise over the mountains. Or to sit in a tree with the peas to your carrots watching the sun set and the fire flies come out and play. The imagery in Forrest Gump was was iconic, so much so that the road that Forrest stops running on is now know as Forrest Gump road. But it is not only in the iconic scenes/imagery that one should look to find beauty, but in the small things as well, the rain, the sunsets, the calm after the storms, the open road, the seaside…and when you do stop for a while and appreciate it.
10. Life really is like a box of chocolates
Forrest’s momma was right, life really is like a box of chocolates. You have to do the best with what you get and make the most of it. Savour every moment while you can, share them with the people you love, because like that box of chocolates, not matter how much you wish for it to last, it is all over and done before you even know. But momma also said that dying was a part of life, so the only thing to do is make the most of it while you can!
11. Sometimes, shit happens…
The events of this week have led me to rethink this post and I think this is a very important lesson that we should not forget either. In the USA, Donald Trump was confirmed as the new president…with many now shouting the apocalypse is upon us. Here in South Africa our very own president Jacob Zuma has survived his third vote of no confidence. He needless to say remains utterly un-bothered. Closer to home, I witnessed a man die on Sunday. Running the Soweto half marathon, we came across a runner who had earlier had a heart attack and was being resuscitated at the 18km mark. Unfortunately he did not pull through and we got the news later in the week. Bad things happen to good people all the time, on a global level. Sometimes, the only way to make your way through it is to accept that shit happens. I cried passing the dying man on the road, but forced myself to move on. Its a heavy load to carry if you take all the things that happen to you along with you, so to keep light celebrate your joys and sorrows as you come to them along the road…