Most of my family and friends think the only genres of movies I watch are either action or comedy. And while that’s usually the case, it’s not a hard and fast rule of mine. I enjoy a drama here and there. A Few Good Men, Shawshank Redemption, and Forrest Gump are among my favorites.
Recently, as I was flipping through channels on the TV, I happened to stumble across Forrest Gump. I found this Tom Hanks classic at the scene where he begins to run. You remember this part, right? He runs for three years, two months, fourteen days, and sixteen hours. And yes, I got winded just by typing that last sentence. But that’s not the point. The point is that Forrest Gump decides to run. And he runs and he runs and he runs. And along the way, he starts to inspire people. He becomes a news phenomenon. Folks want to meet him. Others start running behind him. With no intention of doing so, he becomes a pretty big deal.
I’ve had friends tell me that this is the most boring part of the whole movie. I’ve heard this scene is too far-fetched. I’ve been told it slows down the entire story. Well…I disagree. There are a few interactions during his run that have always stood out to me.
One is a gentleman in the bumper sticker business, struggling to come up with a new slogan. He decides to track down Forrest during his run to see what words of wisdom he could share with him, since he was already influencing so many others with his cross-country trek. As they’re talking, Forrest steps in a pile of dog poop. “Whoa!” yells the man. “You just ran through a big pile of dog $hit!” Forrest replies nonchalantly, “It happens.” “What happens?” presses the man. “$hit?” “Sometimes,” answers Forrest. And with that exchange, we’re to believe the slogan “$hit Happens” was born and the man became very successful from it.
(And yes, I’m using the dollar sign in place of the S in order to keep my blog’s PG rating…and because my mom still reads my blog and would not approve of me swearing…even on paper.)
Forrest then meets another gentleman during his run. This guy had lost all his money in the T-shirt business and wants to meet Forrest to talk about putting his face on a T-shirt. However, this astute businessman didn’t bring a camera and was horrible at drawing, so there was no way to duplicate Forrest’s likeness on a shirt. About that time, a truck drove past and sprayed mud all over both of them. The gentleman gave Forrest a yellow T-shirt to wipe his face. As Forrest handed back the used shirt, the mud he had wiped onto it had become a perfect smiley face. As the man stopped and was staring at the image, Forrest shouted back to him, “Have a Nice Day!” And that was supposed to be the origin of the yellow smiley face telling us to “Have a Nice Day!” That man became very successful as well.
Two men became more successful than they ever dreamt they would be because Forrest Gump added value to their lives. Did he plan to do this? No. Does this change the fact that others became better off by meeting him? Not at all.
Can the same thing be said about us? Do we add value to others’ lives? Do people that we interact with walk away better off because of something we said or did for them? Personally speaking, I sometimes become too consumed with adding value to myself, that I miss out on adding value to others. I become too focused on making money, building a business, trying to be popular…believe me, I could go on and on.
The older I get, the more I realize life isn’t about us and the wealth or status we acquire. (Trust me…I haven’t acquired much of either.) It’s about the impact we have on others. Do we add benefit to our family and friends? Our co-workers and customers? Strangers that we pass on the street? We can. But do we?
Choose just one person today to help. Put his or her needs above yours and see how you feel. My guess is that it will feel so good that tomorrow you’ll choose two folks to help. Then three. Then it will eventually become a way of life. And when we intentionally choose to add value to others’ lives, everyone is the better for it.
Have a Nice Day!