Unquestionably if a person runs long enough, he or she will hear a neighbor, friend, or passerby break out the customary Forrest Gump reference.
Indeed, if you’ve run as long as I have you know this to be true!
The movie Forrest Gump has been part of the American culture for well over twenty years and its impact can easily be measured by the point referenced above. When aspects of a film, book, or any artistic medium melt into everyday jargon, the quality and contribution of that individual work to society remains strong.
As I explained in “Running to the Ends Of The Earth 1,” long before September 2009 when running took on a different meaning for me, I heard those familiar expressions of “Run Forrest Run” or “keep it up Forrest” as I made an almost daily trek around my local New Jersey neighborhood.
I never paid these much mind beyond the customary nod to a familiar feature film. While I readily admit the movie was a great one, I never dwelled too much on the reason why Forrest set out to run across America until after I had completed both my own run across the country, as well as my subsequent runs across Great Britain, France, Cuba, and Ireland.
As most Americans, I had simply seen the movie half a dozen times and went on with my daily life not realizing how personally relevant the film was for me.
To put it another way, I-like many- accepted the classic film line that Forrest just “felt like running.” This, however, I discovered to be completely untrue. To understand why Forrest Gump ran across America a person has to look at the events leading up to that scene.
(Spoiler alert for anyone who has never seen the film.)
Right before he sets out, Forrest asks Jenny to marry him. She replies, before walking away (probably more scared than he), ” You don’t know what love is.” She then shares his bed and leaves the next day. Forrest, sitting on his porch, ponders what just happened; at a time before Internet, cellphones, and text messages. He then simply runs out of his house to achieve the most important goal of the whole frickin’ movie and that is to …
I’ve dwelled on this theme quite often the past few years while comparing it to my own goals and actions.
Oscar Wilde’s famous quote about “life imitating art” more so than vice versa, couldn’t be truer for me today than it was seven years ago.
It is this kind of extraordinary act in an artistic work that reflects the best possible version of us. The kind of person we fantasize about becoming, but are usually too afraid to become. And that isn’t something I say as a superior but something I try to strive towards in my life-making the choices I have made thus far because I want to conquer that fear and attain true happiness.
That is why on May 19th, 2017 I fly out to Switzerland to run across what will be my sixth country. The reason for this run will be the same as its always been, and the same as it was for Forrest Gump.
If you are in Switzerland at the end of May, 2017 do drop me a line and please join me out on the open road!
(Thanks to Donna Oglio for technical help in putting this article together).