Forrest Gump proclaimed those words to Jenny as she walked up the stairs at the Gump house to go to bed. It’s an extremely powerful scene in the movie because we want so much to see Forrest win his girl’s heart, but once again he faces disappointment. As the viewer, did you feel like you wanted to jump for joy with Jenny’s “Yes!” … only to slump back into your seat feeling the pain of Forrest’s breaking heart?
Forrest tenderly narrates the events after Jenny came home to Greenbow for a time, a time when he and Jenny were just like family, and fondly remembers that it was “the happiest time in my life”. After watching the 4th of July fireworks display on TV together, Jenny asks Forrest if he is done watching, turns off the TV and kisses Forrest gently on the cheek. She say’s “I’m going to bed” and starts climbing the stairs. It is a gentle and quiet moment, and we can feel that Forrest wants these happy days to continue.
Halfway up the stairs she is stopped by Forrest’s proposal, “Will you marry me? I’d make a good husband, Jenny.” Jenny hesitates and then simply affirms, “You would, Forrest.” Forrest disappointedly responds, “But you won’t marry me” to which Jenny replies, “You don’t want to marry me.” Forrest then asks and powerfully proclaims, “Why don’t you love me, Jenny? … I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” Forrest turns, walks to the front door, stands with his hand on hip and stares out into the night. Another disappointment, but an assertion from Forrest that he indeed knows more than Jenny thinks he possibly could when it comes to matters of the heart. Do you know what love is?
Albert Ellis said, “The art of love … is largely the art of persistence.” Forrest Gump was certainly persistent in his love for Jenny. We know that Forrest and Jenny eventually marry but at that scene, at that moment in time, Jenny was not ready. We know Mama Gump said, “You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.“ Consider the possibility that Jenny hadn’t yet put her past behind her. The abuse she sustained in her own house as a child no doubt prevented her from loving as completely and honestly as Forrest was ready and willing to do. Fortunately for Jenny … Forrest was very persistent.
But what a remarkable statement by Forrest, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” Dr. Seuss wrote, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Wow! Forrest knew himself so well he accepted his limitations and expressed his feelings without shame or regret. We should all be so dumb! While Forrest didn’t have a high IQ, he was smarter than most in his capacity to love. We should all be so smart!
We’ve all heard the stories of the man who pursues education and business but forgets to pursue love; at the end of his life he feels lonely and empty. Contrast that to a couple that marry young, have a few kids, struggle for years to make ends meet; perhaps they never amass the wealth they wish for, but are rich with love. So what priorities are you placing in your life? What is most important? What are your goals? Do you want wealth? Or maybe you want multiple degrees from prestigious universities? Or maybe you simply desire peace and the joy from real love? Forrest was a smart man, he knew what love was!
To learn more on this subject continue to explore the SpeakingGump.com website or consider having Steve Weber speak at your next company or association meeting. And that?s all I?ve got to say about that!
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