“I am only one, but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Edward Everett Hale

Monday, 29 December 2014

"I know what love is"

Yesterday, I watched Forrest Gump for the very first time with my kids, and was blown away by it. I was utterly captivated from first to last. Tom Hanks is superb, and never steps out of character for an instant. The reviewer in The Radio Times calls him "the semi-literate Everyman who drifts through recent American history", which sort of describes him, but it misses his beautiful simplicity.

What sticks with me is his oft-quoted: "Mamma said: 'Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"

And he never does know. He is the ultimate example of somebody who goes with the flow, so long as it doesn't interfere with his loyalties and principles, which are fierce and fundamental. He never quite realises the incidental impact his actions have on others.

Among other things, and purely by accident, he teaches the young Elvis Presley to dance, participates in civil rights history at the University of Alabama, gives John Lennon the lyrics to Imagine, and helps to trigger the scandal that was Watergate.

His impact on those he loves is much greater, but again, how much of it is deliberate, and how much is just a by-product of his character, is open to question. He only ever wants to be happy with the people he loves and respects, and who have been kind to him. And the results are extraordinary.

In a way, I quite envy him. As he says, "I'm not a smart man - but I know what love is." There are worse ways of going through life.


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