Run, Forrest!

July 19, 2010

As I boarded the plane to return home from an industry event, the voice of a man caught my attention. Not because of its sound, but because of its spirit. The spirit in his voice penetrated the air with such clarity, such peace, that it caused my neck to tilt to the right like Forrest Gump.

I usually speak about this neck action as it refers to my prince when he’s hyper-alert to what’s being said or taught to him. He’s done it since he was a baby. It took me a while to figure out why he did it, but I realized it when he’d wow me with some über-intense conversation immediately following a silent period of “Forrest Gump neck.” At those moments, he’s in his deepest concentration. He’s focusing his entire energy on that one thing that has proven its worth to snag his attention. 

This man proved his worth to snag my attention. Why? Because he was effortlessly happy. This same man ended up sitting across the aisle from me. He had a row to himself; I had mine. As I alternated between absorbing the pages of Geoff Colvin’s Talent Is Overrated and the backs of my eyelids, I kept stealing glances at him with the same curious draw.

If I were to guess, I’d say he was in his mid-50s. He was dressed in shorts and a white polo shirt and clean white New Balance tennis shoes. I know what shoes he wore because I watched his toe tap in its happy cadence to whatever he was hearing from his headphones.

Was it classical music? Was it Beethoven? Was it Bocelli? Was it gospel? My curiosity was piqued and I left with a sore neck from trying to guess.

So, what’s the big deal? That man wore his happiness in a way that made me want to have what he had. We hear all the time that we should be “Christ-like,” that people should be able to see God in us. It doesn’t happen enough. But this man epitomized it. It saddens me that we don’t see this more often. It saddens me that this man was such a phenomenon to me. It saddens me that I was enthralled by an average-looking, everyday guy who was just appreciating life, as if I’d never seen that before.

It’s not always about doing things to deliberately catch people’s attention. Just being you, just being happy, can make onlookers envious. If I could say anything to my prince, I’d say, “Run, Forrest! Find your way to that happiness. Captivate people with the way you wear your happiness.”

Now, who’s up for a run?

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