In Life/ Running

On Goodbyes and Forrest Gump During a Cold Weekend at Home

My mom and Sam left today after being here with us for almost a month – through Christmas and New Year’s and Dopey and everything else!! Lots of tears. It’s always hard to fall back into our usual schedule after having them around all of the time. So today the boys and I are relaxing at home – with this cold weather it feels totally justified – and giving ourselves a bit of a pass on most of our responsibilities. I figure I’ve done enough stuff in the last month or two to justify an afternoon of down time.

(One day I’ll learn to stop feeling the need to justify down time but old dogs take a long time to learn new tricks…so here we are.) 

I thought maybe we’d pop on a movie. I saw Forrest Gump come up on Netflix and realized it was only rated PG-13 and that I probably hadn’t properly watched it start to finish in 20 years. (Apparently it was released TWENTY-NINE years ago? On what planet is that possible??) So on it went. I promised the kids it was a classic.

It ended about 30 minutes ago and the kids are fine but I’m a total mess. It might not have been the right thing to put on when I was already feeling pretty emotionally raw but hey – here we are. 

I honestly don’t know that I’ve sat down and properly watched it through since I was a teenager and I guess I’d either forgotten how the whole thing comes together or I’m just watching with very different eyes.

There were a lot of parts that hit me. 

Like when he’s running…the things he says. 

“Mama always said, ‘Put the past behind you before you can move on.’ And I think that’s what my running was all about.”

So it’s not just me, huh Forrest?

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Anyway, I’m not going to spend long typing today because I’m really focusing on the boys, but I wanted to take a minute to write this now:

I don’t know how much I fully understood this movie when I first watched it as a teenager. Maybe I got it completely and had just long since forgotten. Or maybe I was watching with new eyes now. Because I understood – more now than I remember understanding before – that it’s really a movie torn between two life mindsets. The mindset of his mother, and the mindset of Lt. Dan. And how they’re both a little right in their own way.

Because even if “life is like a box of chocolates” – you should both take the time to read the guide on the sampler AND make the best of it if you mistakenly bite into a raspberry gel along the way.  Maybe life is a lot like planning a Disney trip, too. Prep as best you can but then be ready to roll with the punches.

For his mother, when her time comes, it’s just her time. But in the meantime she makes the best of every situation and does whatever she has to do – whether it’s bringing the principal of Greenbow Country Central home to get her son into regular school or having Forrest pose with a paddle he’d never used – to see that he has everything that he needs to get through life.

In a world full of victims, Mrs. Gump is a damned survivor. Nothing is predetermined and you’ve just got to scrap your head above water sometimes and take care of the people you love. 

But Dan. Dan is a man of destiny. Of what’s meant to be. And we see the danger in that. Because when your perceived destiny takes a turn – like in being denied the chance to die on the field with your platoon – you’re going to lose your way.

And it got me to thinking…maybe it’s both. Maybe what’s happening around us isn’t within our control but maybe we can change it completely for ourselves – both the courses our lives are taking and the outcomes themselves – just by changing our perspective on it. Maybe the folks at the VA were right when they told Dan that “God [was] listening, but [he’d] have to help [himself]” first. Maybe he had to scream at God from the top of that boat in that storm to come out on the other side.

Maybe we all have a destiny – but we’re misled if we think that we don’t have to earn it or that we can know what it is before it comes. And maybe what that means is that the destiny will be there waiting if we approach the journey with an open heart and an open mind and the willingness to work our asses off. And maybe in that process we’ll realize that the destiny itself isn’t what really matters. Maybe we have lots of destinies and they’re all just stops along the way in the larger story of the journey itself. 

Forrest is a simple man but sometimes simple sees through bullshit better than a complicated mind does. Maybe in a world that we can’t control, we’ll end up living pretty amazing lives if we receive what’s happening around us without judgment or fight – and choose, within reason, only to see good intentions and kindness and sheer human imperfection in all of its grandness – and respond accordingly. To be overly philosophical about it, be the reed that bends with the wind and not the oak that breaks in the storm – and either way, make sure you stop to enjoy the view.

And just like that, maybe, in a world where we’re just floating white feathers, we can still find our way pressed into the pages of our own story…only to float away again when the time comes.

I don’t know if mama was right or 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 think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. But I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away.

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Also Tyson saw the birds flying after Forrest leaves Jenny’s grave at the end and reminded us that she’d prayed to be a bird when she was running from her father when they were children and now I’m really a mess.

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That’s all for today. Love you lots.


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If you’re missing home (or love someone who is) and are looking for a way to bring the magic home, I’d love for you to check out my Core Memory collection right HERE. And as always, stay safe and be kind, my friend.


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