CHOICE: “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Movie quote from: Forrest Gump (1994) – Mrs. Gump (Sally Field)
In the movie Forrest Gump, Forrest asks his mother what his destiny will be. She responds with the now-famous line, “Life is a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest is unsure of this perspective. It differs from what he has heard from Lieutenant Dan – a man who believes, “We all have a destiny. Nothing just happens, it’s all part of a plan.” Choice or destiny – what most shapes our lives? Who would have thought the answer would arrive later in this same movie.
Forrest Gump was a man without a plan. He was the metaphorical feather that we saw in the beginning and end of the film – he just went wherever the prevailing cultural winds blew. As a result, he experienced first-hand most of the key events of three tumultuous decades. However, because he had no purpose for involving himself in any of those events, he took no value from them. They were just “a thing called the All America team”, “the land of China”, and “some kind of fruit company.”
In the end of the film, Forrest is standing at the gravesite of his beloved Jenny. He looks at the grave and provides an answer to the destiny-choice question. He says, “Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. but I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”
Exactly. Who says destiny and choice can’t co-exist? Even if we are part of some great master plan, our unique journey has more meaning when we choose it for ourselves. This is the vital importance of planning or having projects – they bring meaning to our day. Forrest Gump never did anything with intent and never felt or learned anything from his great experiences. This is the consequence of just ‘gumping’ through life.
Life is nothing, really, until you add the meaning. All of us will float through a lifetime, only some of us will be fulfilled by the journey. We’ll do that by getting up off the bench – pursuing passions, developing interests, and honoring the vitality and time we’ve been given. Choose the life you want.