Do you remember Forrest Gump’s antique, cloth-covered, wooden suitcase?
Forrest’s suitcase was small in size, easy to carry, and contained a mix of memories and useful items. The memories included his ping-pong paddle and some magazines with Forrest and Lt. Dan on the cover. Useful items included his red Bubba Gump hat, toothpaste and a couple of pairs of socks. Forrest also brought along his favorite book, Curious George, which he used to press the feather between its pages.
Forrest’s suitcase contained the basic things a person would take with them on a short trip.
What if the trip was your life journey?
What if the suitcase was where you put your past memories?
What if the suitcase was where you put your future goals and dreams?
Here is my theory for the suitcase being the perfect metaphor for the things you take with you during your life journey.
The things you carry with you daily, in the present, are your past and future.
The suitcase is a container for your past. Your memories. Your life chapters. Your baggage.
The suitcase is also the container for your future. Your dreams. Your goals.
No matter its size, your suitcase has limited capacity. Decisions must be made on what past and future you want to put in your suitcase.
Since it’s impossible to carry everything from your past, you get to decide the past that will go into your suitcase.
Keep in mind that good memories are lighter. They are easier to carry. Troublesome memories are heavier. They will weigh you down.
And if you pack in too much from your past, there won’t be enough room for future goals and dreams. So, a balance of light past memories and future goals seems most appropriate.
I’m not sure it makes sense to buy larger and larger suitcases to hold your past. Steamer, cabin, or barrel-stave trunks hold more but really aren’t practical for your daily trips to Starbucks, to work, and then back home again. Some folks get storage lockers to hold all their past – but they can’t go anywhere because the storage lockers aren’t portable. An extreme case would be the person who takes a moving van with them every time they leave the house – all for the purpose of taking along all of their past.
I think Forrest had the right idea on the size of his suitcase. I like the idea of limiting your personal suitcase to the old fashioned, small suitcase. It’s light. It’s functional. It’s big enough to take along a mixture of light memories and future desires.
How heavy is your suitcase?
Does your suitcase contain a good balance of past joys and future dreams?
What’s currently in your suitcase that needs to be unpacked?
Note: Thanks to my friend and speaking coach Karen for the inspiration to symbolically put the suitcase I’ve been toting around to good use.
Next Blog Title: Life chapters and “I’ve worn lots of shoes”
Next Blog Date: June 21, 2012
Steve Weber is a speaker, Forrest Gump tribute artist, facilitator, blogger, and author. The three principles of Gumption are specifically designed to get you (and your team) to Function with Gumption. Steve uses the simple, yet powerful, life lessons from the movie Forrest Gump to bring positivity back into the workplace. Learn more at SpeakingGump.com.