Monday, November 1, 2010

Life is like a box of chocolates...

You never know what you’re gonna get.

I watched Forrest Gump last night for the first time in over ten years. That’s a movie worth re-watching.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie or would like a re-cap, Forrest - played by Tom Hanks - is a man raised in Alabama during the 1950s and 60s and not the smartest lot on the tree. He falls in love with his childhood friend Jenny. When the movie starts, he is sitting on a park bench – holding a box of chocolates – and waiting for a bus. He tells the story of his life to the strangers sitting next to him intertwined with Jenny’s story.

And their fortunes were very different. Forrest received fame, notoriety, and fortune as a football star, a Vietnam vet who received a Medal of Honor, a world-class star ping pong player, a shrimping boat captain, and long-distance runner – and it all happened out of just plain old dumb luck. And in my opinion, Forrest’s fortune can also be attributed to his knack for going with the flow and following his heart.

Jenny, on the other hand, suffered abuse as a child, became a drug addict, couldn’t hold onto a steady relationship, and eventually dies at a young age. Was her fortune in life simply different than Forrest's?

The great moral of this story – which I think holds a lot of value for diabetics and non-diabetics – is that life can’t be planned. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get. And, the best way to move forward is to follow your heart and accept what comes.

“I don't know if we each have a destiny,” Forrest ponders at the end of the movie, “or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.”

So many things in life come unexpectedly, things you didn’t plan for, things out of our control. And we really don't know what we’re gonna get.

We can plan and ponder every single little iota. And things may still go differently than expected. It's what you do when that happens that makes the difference.

I’m sure that most of us diabetics out there didn't expect or plan for our diagnosis. I’m sure we could all make a list a mile long of unexpected news in our life – whether with career, health, relationships, or home. People don’t plan for a tornado to hit their home. Or a deer to jump in front of their car. You never know when you are going to meet “the one” and fall madly in love. You also can’t plan for when a potential employer calls you up and offers you a job. I didn't plan to get Celiac or diabetes.

The question is: What do you do with that news once you get it or an event once it happens? How do you deal with it? Do you roll with the punches? Deal with the emotions? Resist? Accept?

This may sound strange, but I think we all have something to learn from Forrest Gump. I know I do. He took every moment for what it was. Accepted whatever came his way. Forrest followed his heart. He did what he thought was best for him and those he loved at each moment. He may not have been the smartest, but he sure knew how to live life.

Eating each piece of chocolate, one bite at a time.

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