Everything I Need To Know, I Learned From Forrest Gump
As promised, I am continuing my favorite Oscar nominated movies trend because it is OSCAR SEASON.
Though I am now writing this post-nomination announcement, and I must admit, my Oscar fever is more like 98.6 than an actual fever. Nothing I am rooting for on the Big Night is anything extremely near and dear to my heart, besides Moonrise Kingdom for Best Original Screenplay, but per usual, I am getting off track.
I would give anything to be a little bit older and therefore more aware of the year 1994. I do remember my sunshine of a little brother being born, I do remember The Lion King coming out and my reaction to the film in theaters, hating my grandmother for making me watch such a tragic movie. And as a slightly older person, I remember it as the year that every single amazing movie ever made was released! Forrest Gump, Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Little Women, for crying out loud! I mean, I am pretty advanced in my film education, but I did not watch any of those movies when I was seven–thank god my mother had some discretion–though Forrest is way more appropriate than The Shining, which I saw when I was eight.
Yesterday was our President’s Inauguration day as well, so what better movie to discuss our life lessons than Forrest Gump, the all-encompassing feel-good-touch-your-heart-make-you-cry-history-lesson of a movie?
Tom Hanks, I owe you so much of my heart.
EINTKILF Forrest Gump
1. Talk to strangers, you never know who you are going to meet.
Forrest Gump is almost entirely a story told by a man sitting on a park bench, waiting for the number 9 bus as he talks to anyone who will sit down next to him. The movie begins and Forrest is telling a disinterested woman about his crooked spine, and his relationship with his mother, and by the end of the movie, he is sitting next to an older tear-filled woman who tells him he has been waiting for a bus unnecessarily this whole time. Watching this movie with a dear friend (who I want to one day marry), he pointed out that the disinterested lady and Forrest’s “conversation” reminds him of how he is at the store we both worked at. I totally agreed; I am the kind of person who tends to get irritated with rambling strangers, but it is important to remember that you never know who is talking to you, and what they may be able to teach you.
Expand your horizons, we are all different.
2. “Vacation is when you go somewhere, and never come back.”
Mrs. Gump tells Forrest’s terrible school administrator that Mr. Gump is “on vacation,” and when Forrest later inquires about the word, Mrs. Gump tells him the truth, disguised in a poorly defined word.
My dad also went on vacation, so this probably made me cry when I was a kid. As an insensitive jerk of an adult however, I loudly claimed that I wanted to go on vacation, too!
3. Stupid is as stupid does.
Or in layman’s terms, you are what you do.
Forrest repeats this line plenty of times throughout the film, something Mama Gump taught him as a young, not-so-intelligent boy. Forrest is called stupid a thousand times throughout his life, but he is never phased. Oh, to be so calm and patient with mankind. How glorious.
Some of the absolute smartest people I have ever met in my entire life double up as some of the dumbest, because? Stupid is as stupid does. Just because you are a genius does not mean the dumb things you do are not dumb.
Who knew anything about shrimp before Forrest Gump? I mean, probably some people, but even now when I watch this movie, I’m always like, “shrimp burgers?!”
“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” Bubba
Also, for the record, I consider Forrest Gump to be one of the most loyal characters in the history of cinema. Not only does he keep his promise to his “best good friend” Bubba after he is killed in Vietnam, but he also supports his family, the family that Forrest had obviously never met and had no obligation to. Not to mention (well, definitely to mention, but not right here) his loyalty to Jenny.
Forrest Gump pretty much entirely accurately portrays the following pieces of American history: Elvis Presley’s uprising, the Stand-in the Schoolhouse Door, JFK’s death, John Lennon’s penning of “Imagine,” the Vietnam war and its plenty of protests, a Black Panther rally, and Watergate.
And when I say “entirely accurately,” I mean…obviously Tom Hanks/Forrest Gump was not present for most, if any, of that stuff.
6. If you need to clear your head, go for a run.
Running is a huge theme throughout Forrest Gump, dating back to the first time kids throw rocks at the poor little braced up kiddo and Jenny, the already-love-of-his-life, tells him to run.
Well, we all know she tells him to “RUN, FORREST, RUN,” which he does, for the rest of his life. Forrest does not only run from bullies, but he runs for football, which gets him into college. He runs for the war, which helps him save lives, including Lieutenant Dan–“Lt. Dan, ice-cream!” He runs (AND PUNCHES) to save Jenny from the terrible men she associates herself with for most of her life, and he eventually runs for three entire years, from coast to coast throughout the country. That particular run comes from his personal heartbreak after he asks Jenny to marry him, she declines, though comes into his room to make love to him, only to disappear in the morning.
Forrest loves Jenny his entire life, and man, I think I would have to go for a three year run if my heart hurt that bad, as well. YOU GO FORREST CO-CO.
“Now you wouldn’t believe me if I told you, but I could run like the wind blows. From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!”
7. You must put the past behind you before you can move on.
Another lesson Mama Gump taught Forrest, and he teaches us, though I admit this is a thing I believe I still need to hone in on. I pretty much never put anything behind me, which is why I still cry when I hear the song “You Are Not Alone,” or when I watch Uncle Buck.
I still have a poster of Titanic up in my bedroom, which is not only not putting the past behind me, but is probably hindering my ability to get a boyfriend.
8. “Sometimes, I guess there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Dear, sweet, troubled Jenny, the girl Forrest meets on a bus on his first day of school, grew up with a terrible man of a father. Though still young when she was taken away from him and sent to live with her grandmother, there are some things you cannot let go of easily, if ever. (See above lesson.)
As adults on a leisurely stroll, Jenny and Forrest come upon her father’s old house and seemingly out of nowhere, Jenny begins throwing rocks at the house. Forrest, of course, helps her, and utters that line that I love so much: “Sometimes, I guess, there just aren’t enough rocks.”
Though I am about to contradict my lessons here, I wholly believe that there are instances in your life you maybe should not “get over.” Yes, leave the heartbreak of your ex-boyfriend who you were so in love with behind to make for the new, much better for your heart relationship. But never forget where you came from, and how you got where you are today. If you do not use the experiences in your life, if you choose to ignore them instead, how will you ever learn a lesson?
Besides by reading this column, obvs. I am full of lessons. This is a safe place. You can trust me.
9. Never say never.
No, this is not an accidental lesson from the Biebs’ documentary, I just think “never say never” applies to everything in life. When Forrest meets Jenny as children, he falls in love with her immediately. He continues to love her, even as she resists his love their entire lives, yet he never gives up on her. She turns him down time and time again, even running away from him after he asks her to marry him, as I mentioned before.
SPOILER ALERT, but Jenny and Forrest eventually have a child together, though Forrest is unaware of Forrest, Jr. for a few years. Jenny asks Forrest, while sitting on a park bench, to marry her. Though she has contracted the AIDS virus, and eventually tragically passes away at an incredibly young age, she ends her life with the man who has always loved her, and who I believe she has always loved right back.
Though life does not turn out ideally for Forrest (when does it ever?), Jenny dying on that Saturday morning in the home that had always been theirs, was more than Forrest could have hoped for. Dying is a part of life–“I sure wish it wasn’t“–and it is better to pass with your love than to never have returned to him.
10. And how to love, in general.
That line gives me chills every time I watch this glorious film. Hanks’ portrayal of Forrest–his perfect simplicity, his huge heart, his simple mind–gets me, always.
Forrest loves Jenny in a way that every person can only hope to be loved. In fact, Forrest loves his mother, and Bubba, and Lieutenant Dan, in a way that every person can only hope to be loved. A combination of his intuitiveness, the ability to see through humanity’s great flaws, his huge heart, and his loyalty allows Forrest to support and love and offer his world to Jenny Curran, a girl who treated him like the perfect person he was at a time of great insecurity, is what dreams are made of.
And for the record, if you do not watch Hanks’ acceptance speeches, we are fighting!
I have already had a lot of loves of my life. I envy those that fall in love with One and stay in love with them, literally fighting throughout the years to have them love you back.
“You know it’s funny what a young man recollects? ‘Cause I don’t remember bein’ born. I don’t recall what I got for my first Christmas and I don’t know when I went on my first outdoor picnic. But I do remember the first time I heard the sweetest voice in the wide world.” (My favorite line in the entire film.)
Okay, I promise I will be funny next week. CORNBALL OUT.