Saturday, April 15, 2017

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump. Most of us have gathered in the living room to watch this movie - perhaps more than once. Me? I watched it today because I knew I needed to...

It is probably a most-known fact that the 'magic' of Forrest Gump is that we, as the viewers, can identify with at least one character or, failing that, can at least identify with a few scenes. Like no other, Forrest Gump spans generations, it spans memories, it even spans beliefs. Yet, at the same time, it is chock-full of lessons that each of us can both identify and grow from.

After just seeing it again for probably the 20th time, there are a few scenes that have really resonated with me. These scenes have helped me put back together some of the broken pieces of my life and I would like to write about them as a quasi-form of therapy here. You are welcome to journey along with me...

The Scene of Lieutenant Dan Dealing with Destiny

This man had a destiny. He had a long line of heritage - as his ancestors had died on the field, his so-called destiny was to die on the field as well. Yet 'Gump' (as he affectionately called him) 'cheated him out' of his destiny. Gump carried him off the field. He, along with many others, were rescued from imminent danger. And their lives were never to be the same again. It was clear that Lieutenant Dan struggled for many years after this until he 'made peace with God'. The scene of him leaping off of the ship is charged with much emotion, yet I have a different scene that I believe, in my circumstances that I find myself in today, speaks louder. The scene of he and his fiance 'Susan' arriving on Forrest and Jenny's wedding day. They exchange pleasantries. Each introduces the other to his significant other, and then they lock eyes. Nothing was spoken. No words were heard, at least not audible ones. But the look between these two friends is priceless. Why? Because in it we finally hear the Song of Peace playing its sweet melody on the heart-strings of Lieutenant Dan's (finally) scar-clad heart that is of purest gold. He understands. By the look in his eye we all get a front-row seat to see that there is hope after trial. We can move on. Though our idea off destiny crumbles before us, we can rise again. Though scarred and, literally, limping along, Lieutenant Dan looks his friend in the eye and sings the simple two-chord melody of Thank You. Overwhelming grace-filled thanks is what is exchanged. Lieutenant Dan has finally walked through the fire of trial and has learned the valuable lessons so few dare to stare in the face for fear of getting burned. Though the scars remain. Though the limp is evident. Lieutenant Dan smiles because he is at peace with his destiny and life. He has finally let go.

The Scene of Jenny Confessing Her Love to Forrest

If you remember, this isn't the first time that Jenny says 'I love you' to Forrest, but it is clearly the first time it is from the purest of intentions. After all that her life has come to. After all the choices that she has made. Contrary to the scene where she stands on the stairs and hears Forrest's proposal of marriage and rejects him because he '...wouldn't want to marry [her]', she knows that she is accepted. Lying in this bed, looking into his eyes, she knows she is unequivocally accepted. She knows that there is nothing that she has done to deserve this love Forrest has offered her continually through all of her life. Even despite the scene where he confesses his love for her and she says, ' don't know what love is', like she, with the choices she has made in her life to that point in the film, has somehow discovered its secret. In this beautiful scene, she reaches over, takes his hand, and says those magical words, 'I love you'. It is in response to Forrest relaying to her the things that he figured out while he ran. He described in detail the sun rising and setting, the sky so full of beauty, as best he could. And in response, Jenny, looking out the window, imagining what it could have been like, exclaimed, 'I wish I could have been there with you', to which Forrest responds, 'You were'. After he says this, she is so filled with love for him, that she says those three little words that he has longed for her to say all of his life. And yet, he, in response now, does not respond. He does not say a word. He is so caught up in emotion. And the story continues as the characters narration of his own story continues, that she died on a Saturday morning, and he placed her under 'their tree'...their love for each other will never grow dim.

The Scene of Little Forrest Getting on the Bus

This is, by far, my most favourite scene. We, the audience, knows that the film is almost over. We, the audience, are hoping that all will turn out right; that the characters' lives will somehow work out. But life, like this film, does not end this way. Lieutenant Dan's legs have not magically been put back together. Forrest's mind has not magically developed. Jenny has not magically risen from the dead. There has been pain, real pain, in this story. We cannot say that, '...and they all lived happily ever after', because that would be a lie. But I would say that they, each in their own way, had come to a realisation that there can be joy; there can be peace in the trial. Forrest clearly made sure that the bus driver and Little Forrest were on the same page (communicated by the nod once his little one climbs onto the bus), but there is this hesitation on Forrest's part that I would like to conclude my journal entry of the movie with. Forrest speaks out to his son and says, 'Hey Forrest don't...' We are left with what he might have wanted to say because he caught himself short. He changed his tune. In those few seconds Forrest hesitated. He, being a loving father now, wanted to protect his son from all the things that might have come his way. But in those few seconds, each of us is reminded of all that has transpired in this man's life and we, too, come to the same conclusion: Let life be. Let it flow. Let the circumstances fall where they must. And what remains? Love. Forrest tells his son, 'I love you'. And that is all that is needed. Love does conquer all. Instead of protecting his loved-one from harm, from pain, from circumstances that he, even in his little life, could be confronted with (juxtaposing back to the first day on Senior Forrest's first day of school), it is all worth it. And we are left with the answer to one of life's most difficult questions: Is it all worth it?

Maybe these thoughts of mine are a bit too deep. Maybe not one of these trails of thought really resonate with you. That's ok. As I mentioned, I knew I needed to do this. I have come to a place in my life where, unknowingly, there are many scenes (and characters) in my life that parallel the amazing story and script of Forrest Gump. Love gained and lost. Characters who have come in and out of my life in ways I cannot even begin to comprehend why. Circumstances filled with pain that have not yet had their eureka moment revealed. And yet, the proverbial 'bus scene' in my life has come many, many times and I have still come to the same conclusion that life is worth living. Pain is worthy struggling through. Love is worth risking. Even though each of these experiences may not have the outcome that we wish they had, they are each, in their own way, completely worth it. We just need to dare ourselves to reach out and take the opportunity, knowing all too well that it will cause pain, heartache and many other things, but it will be worth it.

I can identify with more than one character in this film. I identify with Lieutenant Dan's struggle for destiny, Jenny's search for meaning in all the wrong places, and Forrest's longing to be loved for who he is instead of what he's not. I can identify with each of the characters at the bus stop - some listening intently, others, not paying close enough attention. Yet I can also identify with more than a few scenes; I could have written about many more. The scene of Forrest and his mother talking of destiny. The scene of Forrest and Bubba on the beach in Vietnam. The scene of Jenny saying to Forrest 'I'll always be your girl' yet still getting on the bus. Like no other, Forrest Gump indeed spans generations. It spans life's memories. It even spans beliefs. Yet, at the same time, it is chock-full of lessons that each of us can both identify and grow from. I know I have appreciated its lessons this evening. And know that I will also seek to live out the truths that are clearly visible in this beautiful movie. Risk love. Risk trial. Risk pain. Each are worth it. 

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