Why Forrest Gump Was Wrong

I’m sure we’ve all heard Forrest Gump’s famous quote about some things being unpredictable.

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Has my cynicism with the world eroded the romanticism of that much loved quote? Surely it’s obvious – you’re going to get a chocolate.  Maybe it’s just because I even like the coffee flavour chocolates that no-one else likes so it doesn’t really matter to me which I get!

Last night I ended up at the casino, on a blackjack table.  There are various rules I won’t go in to too far for those who don’t know them, but basically if you draw cards until you decide not to or their value adds up to 21.  The dealer does likewise, but in the casino we’re in a dealer has to draw another card on 16 and stop drawing at 17.  This means if you can get 18, 19 or 20, you have a good chance of winning.

Somehow, though, I had a nightmare night.  When I got 18, the dealer would get 19.  If I got 19, the dealer would get 20.  I got 20, she got 21.  It became not unpredictable, even though it was improbable.  It was like the time we went earlier in the year, and there were nine straight blacks on the roulette table.  It became a joke that it wasn’t unpredictable, it was just improbable.

It’s rumoured that the quote from the Forrest Gump film may have originated from the book Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989.  It says the following:

Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates. …You know, they’ve got these chocolate assortments, and you like some but you don’t like others? And you eat all the ones you like, and the only ones left are the ones you don’t like as much? I always think about that when something painful comes up. “Now I just have to polish these off, and everything’ll be OK.” Life is a box of chocolates.

That quote implies that one of the most predictable things is that unpredictable things will happen and, when they do, you’ve just got to get through it.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while

It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.

Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life) by Green Day


Comments 4

  1. Keith Haney

    Rats I based my entire life philosophy on Foreest Gumption quotes. Say it ain’t so.😀

    • Haha! Just my opinion! As I said, I can sometimes be a bit cynical… 😝

  2. Great post! The movie Forest Gump was based on a book of the same name published in 1986, which I haven’t read. It would be interesting to see if the quote was in there or if it was Murakami’s. Thanks.

    • I believe, although haven’t read the book, that the line from that is “Let me say this: Bein’ a idiot is no box of chocolates.” Kind of adds a different spin to it, doesn’t it?

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