Monday, January 27, 2014

3 Timeless Lessons From Forrest Gump

It's the 20th anniversary of the release of Forrest Gump this summer

Over the recent holiday break, I had the joy of watching the 1994 film phenomenon, Forrest Gump with my two kids for the first time. It was so amazing to watch this classic film and experience it through the eyes of my 21st century children.

The way my kids anticipated the happenings of the film showed me how much more tuned in emotionally my kids are versus me at their age. The questions they had (which were few but really good) and the discussions they initiated reminded me of the power of fiction in our lives. I was also reminded of so many timeless and valuable messages that the book and film brought to life through the eyes of the simplistic man Forrest Gump. Here are three we could use more of nowadays:

True Friends Are Few and Precious

It did not go unnoticed by my 12 and 8 year old that Forrest had only a few friends in his life. Both kids immediately noted that his friendships with Jenny and Bubba were deep and lasting, even though they were so different. In the Facebook age, we often confuse what friends truly are friends to us. Friends make no regard for what we can or cannot do, they accept and love us for who we are.  Forrest was blessed to have at least two people at different eras of his life who loved him unconditionally. Both Jenny and Bubba loved and protected Forrest and he protected them both in return. Even in his passing Bubba provided inspiration for Forrest beyond what Forrest himself could truly comprehend. Friends are few and precious and even a simple man like Forrest Gump did not miss this.

Authenticity Trumps Every Thing

Throughout the story of Forrest Gump, we see the importance of being authentic. From his mom doing whatever was "necessary" to ensure her son had the best education to the moving scene near the end of the movie when Forrest meets little Forrest and frighteningly asks Jenny about his aptitude, we see so many people just being who they are and embracing it. Think about Jenny herself, abused and lost from her childhood days, she took risks and lived her life the way she saw best. Forrest embraced his own simplistic ways and continued to pursue activities in his life that honored his talents and strengths. Lt. Dan was another example of someone who had to face his actual life versus the one he'd planned in his mind. And each one was able to live in peace once they accepted their authentic selves.

Love Begets Love

From beginning to end, we see examples on top of examples of love and how love begets love.  Mrs. Gump's love towards Forrest, despite the hardships they faced, her single motherhood, his physical and mental disabilities, is a clear picture of instilling love from the beginning. Unconditional, tough, honest and cultivated love.  We see how the love Forrest was raised with permeated his life, causing him to befriend Bubba and not even blink as it was counter cultural at that time. That secure love bond made it easy for him to keep his word and share his fortune with Bubba's family even when no one would have been the wiser had he done otherwise. Forrest and his unconditional love for Jenny since their childhood days allowed him to stay connected to her throughout their lives and gave him the chance to spend her last days on earth attending to her. That initial seed of unconditional love planted in Forrest in his youth blossomed and gave fruit again and again throughout his life.

It's hard to believe that 20 years have gone by since Forrest Gump entered pop culture and taught us so much. I am grateful to be able to re-live and learn again with a new generation. Friendship, authenticity and love are the most valuable lessons I learned and live daily from the man from Greenbow, Alabama.

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