I’m Forrest Gump, y’all.
People ask me why I like Forrest Gump. We can both agree, it is a film that has its flaws.
And in the 90’s, when it was released, I couldn’t really articulate precisely why I liked the film. “How can you like something like that?!?” scoffed my boss at the time who had just previously asked what recent films I had enjoyed. Something about Forrest Gump tickled my brain in just the right way.
Maybe I saw a little bit of me there. But I knew it felt that it was more than that.
But I came to realize, after a few years, the film is about a regular, not too bright, not particularly privileged young man, who went about life doing the things he found interesting, open to whatever adventures came his way, if he had the available time to dedicate to that adventure, and somehow, it all worked out. And even later on, when he did have privilege and money, Forrest continued to do precisely whatever he wanted, that precise thing that made him happy. Which begat him even more opportunity.
Forrest didn’t wait around for life to find him, but he also didn’t aggressively pursue opportunity either. Life just happened, and he made himself open to it, in a quotable line, whenever opportunity presented itself, you heard “Okay.” And a new adventure began again.
And what I have found, is that a lot of people are chasing here, there, and everywhere, looking for adventure, but when one shows up, they wonder “what’s in it for me?” or state, very proudly, “there’s no money in that, where’s the profit? How will it make money!?!”
Oftentimes, when at a networking meetup people ask me, “so what is it you do?” my default response for many years has been “Whatever the fuck I want to. Somehow it makes money. And everyone goes home happy.” And the profanity catches them off guard, but then we get in to a conversation about what “doing whatever I want to” actually means. Which is frequently followed by “how do I do that?”
I’ve never worked a day in my life. Every day I get to play. And people pay generously for me to sit down and play. Sure, there have been days where it’s tough, and sure, there have been days when it hasn’t been fun, and sure, there have been days when the pay wasn’t so great. But those few bad days passed, and I’ve had far more fun days than bad days. And if those bad days continue due to a toxic environment, I go find a different place to play, where I will be valued, and where I will be happy.
You couldn’t pay me enough to work on a shitty project in a toxic environment. And I won’t even give a single person the time of day, but I’ll give all my life’s work away for free to millions. I’ve made value for myself, which in turn has created value for other people too. Too many people work very hard making value for others and not keeping any for themselves. And then they look around, at the end of their long life, why am I not rich? Why am I not successful?
What I have done is precisely what makes me happy, every day. Every. Day. From the moment I wake. Until the moment I sleep. And somehow it has all sort of worked out.
I’m Forrest Gump, y’all.