Life really IS like a box of chocolates: it can lead to diabetes and kill you, or have you delighting in the sweetness at the centre of each individual piece. My continuing journey into intuition has made that contrast oh so clear and today’s offering explores the gift of being a double amputee.
I felt the need to unwind with a movie tonight and my usual drill is to peruse the internet for the tingle of inspiration before acquiring said title and making a meal of it. This time, it was IMDb that provided the inspiration in the form of Schindler’s List. I thought “Yup. That sounds like me. Pretty sure I’ve never watched the whole thing and the clips I have seen seem thought provoking.”
Always nice when the movie you want is older because it makes it more likely that you can find and stream it easily. Professor YouTube was about to give me an education tonight. Alas… it was not to be. Several ‘click-baits’ later, I decided to park that ambition.
Turns out that YouTube knows me pretty well from all its datamining activities. Today, I shall forgive the intrusion, for it led me to that time-tested classic: Forrest Gump.
It struck me how fitting it is that Forrest should show up on my recommended viewing list. I am after all in the midst of a very Forrest-like campaign. Combine this happy fortune with the true mastery Tom Hanks has developed over his craft and it’s really a no-brainer. BOOM! First try is a winner!
I include the sequence leading up to the film because I think it is an important illustration of its most important them in action. I love Forrest Gump as a character because he successfully embodies the most liberating of ideas: the decision to follow.
Now it’s important to note that I’m not talking about the type of following that comes about in the dichotomy of leadership and minionship. I speak of the decision to surrender to a natural inclination born of selfness. And when I speak of selfness, I refer not to the ego-bound idea of who a person believes themselves to be, but of the self we feel beyond reason or experience.
Forrest has the gift of not having the urge to rationalise. He just does stuff. As opportunity or desire arise, he seems to run but one check: “Would that hurt anyone who is special in my life?” If the answer is no, then he’s away. No internal discussion. No weighing of the pros and cons. No debate of the insignificant minutia competing for ego’s favour. Forrest acts on intuition.
On The Longest Walk NZ and indeed, even in order to get it going, there have been many choice points that could decide the fact of later experience. Every time I’ve acted on the ‘gut’ feeling, I’ve not been disappointed. Perhaps this is a confirmation bias at work rather than a real record of events. But there seems to be something to it.
We see Forrest teaching Elvis how to dance; meeting the President thrice (first as an all-American collegiate football star, then as a war hero, and once again as a Ping Pong champion); along with business success and as a muse for others.
Through all this, his core feelings drive him forwards to success despite likely gain or loss for himself. This is most clearly seen in his acts of “courage”. He runs in to save friends under fire in Vietnam despite napalm having already been called in and he fights off Jenny’s destructive boyfriends on several occasions. I put COURAGE in quotation marks because he is seemingly not hindered by the motivation for self-preservation. All he sees is what is needed.
His only violent acts are compelled by violence towards one for whom he cares unconditionally: “His girl”. His Jenny, who makes some poor choices due to her low self-esteem and a need to feel accepted. His black and white vision is both his bane and virtue. But with their default floral tint, his eyes see only blameless inevitability and optimism.
This walk has been similar in a way. It’s been an exercise in relaxing my tendency to control and to allow opportunity to unfold. Just this morning for example, I followed a series of completely unplanned and unexpected events which could have a distinct bearing on my future. I won’t go into details right now, but will say that it all started from a random, friendly conversation with a stranger who ended up offering a place to park up for a few nights. It took me to an area I would never have gone to otherwise and could potentially end up becoming my home.
It all boils down to the attitude of the old lady catching the number 7 bus. She chooses to stay saying “There’ll be another one along shortly” in essence choosing to experience the moment which has presented itself and roll with the consequences of that choice. In comes down to trusting that our original plan may be useful in guiding our endpoint, but the path we take may vary.
Back to the allusion to double amputation, we see this also in Lieutenant Dan, who loses his legs but eventually gains a satisfying, if unexpected, life. And with that, I hope you enjoy your box of chocolates. It’s the only one you ever get after all.