The lines “Run, Forrest, run!” are etched in public memory as one of the most memorable scenes of cinema history, when young Forrest Gump, upon being chased by bullies in a car, runs a ‘Roger Bannister mile’ breaking him free from his prosthetic leg. He never stops running as the movie would follow. And that’s perhaps one of the greatest lessons for a human being.
The character looks, to a mere observer, as a low IQ level individual who made it big everywhere by mere flukes. Other critics have studied the film from a purely historical perspective, as it being a satirical take on American history from the eyes of Forrest Gump. But there is a third and often missing perspective – an enormous amount of positivity and inspiration that the movie radiates to the viewer.
Forrest Gump has convinced me of many simple lessons for life. Here are a few:
Keep it simple. Was Forrest Gump’s low IQ a boon? Well in some crude way, yes, for it helped him see things from a simplistic perspective. One of our greatest philosophical problems have always been the existence of doubt – a doubt however small can spoil even the simplest of things for us. Isn’t that the greatest struggle of all? The struggle with our doubts. Will this go wrong? Am I good enough? Am I strong enough? Am I really worth this?
Forrest Gump has convinced me that the first step to success is to remove all sorts of self-doubts and other limitations. Of course, there are real physical limitations and maybe even societal limitations that may be around you. There will of course be people telling you this can’t be done or this can’t be done especially by you. But that’s just them revealing their doubts and limitations about themselves.
First lesson: Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t impose limitations on yourself. Keep it simple.
Anything is possible. Forrest Gump’s achievements come as shocking to people and hence they tend to dismiss it as just a movie tale (“it only happens in movies”). But that’s where they’re wrong. Human history has shown us that human beings alone or in synchrony have been able to achieve unthinkable things. To conceive of the world and your life as totally absurd and henceforth to move on with complete determination to achieve anything can surely help you achieve impossible things. If you look at your life or the world in general, none of it makes much sense, so why should your dreams? Are dreams supposed to make sense? Well, if they do, they probably aren’t dreams at all. They’re coldly calculated plans. One must convince oneself of the fact that anything is indeed possible with true grit, determination and the passion of Forrest Gump.
Second lesson: Conceive of the impossible as the absurd. Then attempt the absurd to make convert impossibilities into realities.
Life is a box of chocolates. This is another very memorable line from the first scene of the movie where Forrest Gump quotes his mother, saying, “mama said life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” In our lives, everything comes as a choice with plenty of opportunity costs and the thing with chocolates is that you can’t have a box of them in one go. Our choices decide our lives. Nobody can be sure of life. Nothing is certain about life, except for death and taxes, so we are to find meaning in the opportunities we are offered and convert them into good choices. Remember that you will get various kind of chocolates – some sweet, some bitter, some extra sweet, some extra bitter. But the thing with chocolates is that you don’t eating them even after you’ve consumed something very averse to your taste buds. And that’s how life should be as well. The chocolates are the various opportunities offered to us and we are to decide which to consume and those choices eventually go onto become our experiences. And you never know what’s in store for you next. So always look forward to next thing like you’d look forward to an uncertain box of chocolates.
Third lesson: Keep looking onwards. Don’t settle. You never know what might be in store for you.
Run, Forrest, run! This is perhaps the most crucial lessons of them all. All of Forrest Gump’s successes came from him continuing his run, his run of life, for life! He never stopped. He never took a break. One day he was running for his college football team and the next day for his country in the Vietnam War. Before you know it, he was part of America and China’s ping-pong diplomacy and then running a successful shrimp empire. All because he never stopped running. He didn’t have many misgivings about life’s opportunities, he only knew that he had to keep running because Jenny (his love of his life) once told him to. He first ran away from his problems (the bullies in the car) and that ran towards his life before achieving monumental success. In a way he was running for his life his entire life.
Fourth lesson: Just do it. You either keep growing or you die.