“Storm is Coming!” was one of The Boy’s favorite books (and mine) when he was young. A farmer facing a brewing storm sends his dog to get all the animals in the barn. They gather, terrified of the fearsome Storm – but they don’t know what that means. They assume it’s a person, or monster, or some such. Thunder and heavy rain comes, and the animals are convinced the Sky is trying to protect them from Storm. In the end, the sun comes back out and all are safe, confident that Storm never actually arrived.

In our lives, the Storm comes in all shapes and sizes. Huge life-altering events with a big buildup, and seemingly insignificant moments that are part of daily life but carry huge impact. Sometimes you won’t know it WAS the storm until the moment has passed. Other times, the expected storm can be easily handled. And of course, there are the times that the storm tears things apart.

Recently we hosted the first ever 1DOS Foundation 5k. I probably drove some folks crazy with a barrage of messages, trying to think ahead and cover every possible detail. Amy and I worked hard leading up to and through the weekend; the weather held, volunteers like my sainted wife stepped up and handled race day operations, and things went off largely without a hitch.

All of this left Amy and I to fill in where needed, talk to as many folks as we could, and pause a couple times in wonder at this thing, this big thing, we had done. (I felt like a duck, trying to be calm on the surface – but under water my feet were kicking like crazy!) The expected storm, the other shoe dropping, something going horribly wrong – it never came. Feedback was excellent overall, from the race timers to the runners, with comments about how well organized and professional things seemed.

Along the way, I found myself thinking about Lieutenant Dan Taylor. (Yes, I have a weird brain.) To me, Lt. Dan was the real hero of Forrest Gump. Gump may have been the protagonist, but Gary Sinise’s Dan carried the point of the movie home for me.

(Side note: In pulling info for this blog, I was surprised to learn that there is a whole segment that really dislikes the movie. I knew of people who thought it was overly simplistic and cute, but to actively despise it – that was not something I recognized.)

Now, Where Was I?

The central theme of Gump revolves around destiny and fate. Forrest finds his way into historical and pop culture events, drifting along as the wind takes him, yet always driven by his earnest attempts to do right by others. He stands by his word, works hard, and tries to be a good person. Naive, simple, but faithful and loyal.

Lieutenant Dan, on the other hand, knows what his destiny is. He is going to fight and die for his country, like so many of his ancestors. He is prepared to sacrifice himself, but Gump “ruins” that by pulling him out of the kill zone, saving his life. Dan struggles with this change of fate; he’s angry at Forrest, angry at society, angry at God – he blames everyone and everything, and his life spirals. The culmination of this? Hurricane Carmen:

“You call this a storm?”

What Does It All Mean, Basil?

We make decisions that change our lives every day. Whether you believe in destiny or not, when you find yourself in a situation, you can own it or you can play the victim. “I can’t do this” or “that won’t work for me” are just excuses that let yourself off the hook. You know what you should do, but gosh, it’s not your fault. You just can’t. Ahem. Bullshit.

Lieutenant Dan eventually found peace and discovered real happiness. He came to terms with the loss of his legs and built a new future for himself. Yes, it wasn’t the one he thought he would have, but he finally owned it and made it his. This isn’t easy to do; the mental gymnastics we create can be a bigger obstacle than the actual issues we are facing. There is a path through – keep looking, keep working. At some point, the sun will come back, and you will find yourself wondering why you were so worried. You made it through the Storm.

Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash

Forrest Gump is not my property and I hold no rights to the movie or this content.
Finerman, W., Starkey, S. P., Tisch, S. (Producers), & Zemeckis, R. (Director). (1994). Forrest Gump [Motion Picture]. United States: Paramount Pictures.