There was a movie shown last night on television,
“Around the World in 80 Days,” one I’d seen before,
In the movie, Phineas Fogg, played by David Niven,
had made a wager with his British male colleagues
that he could traverse the world completely in only
80 days, a feat that seemed impossible because
rapid transit such as airplanes and automobiles hadn’t
yet been invented. The wagers were flying and Fogg
was on his way.
Fogg embarks on the journey with his manservant
and one suitcase (think of that, Ladies!). They travel
any way they can completely around the world, by
ship, train, hot air balloon, elephant, barge, handcar
with a sail; anything they can find.
When I had seen the movie years ago, the meaning
was clear to me: “pursue your dream no matter what.”
But this time I saw another meaning. Throughout the
journey, Phineas Fogg rarely looked out the window of his transportation conveyance;
he would engross himself in his card games,
gambling with the other passengers and was
very uninterested in where he was except for
the next leg of the trek. He did not
see the beautiful sunsets on the river cruises; he
rarely engaged in conversation with any other
passengers except to play cards.
When I thought about it, Phineas Fogg reminded me
of today’s phone-obsessed individuals seen in public
texting, emailing, surfing on their phones and laptops,
a beautiful scene unfolding before them totally unnoticed.
The experience of the journey and actually being
manservant, Passepartout. This young man reveled
in the gorgeous sunsets, took part in a bullfighting
balloon, drank in vistas of lakes and mountain ranges,
buffalo herds, native dancers, strange cuisine, the
beauty of strange new animals and new cultures.
Phineas Fogg made his incredible around-the-world
journey for the sole purpose of proving he could do it
and win the purse of several thousand
pounds from his fellow Englishmen.
For 80 days he focused on the destination and not
the journey. He met each new challenge with inspiration
and innovation, but he seemed entirely unaware and
uninterested in what the world had to offer.
Are we rushing toward our goals without thought for the journey? Are we simply bent on the outcome of our efforts without being present in our day-to-day lives and
situations, places and people we meet along the way?
Once we reach the goal is it then that we will start “living?”
Or would we have to relearn how to live because we’re
out of practice? Many of us would just refocus our sights
onto the next goal and go, go, go. To achieve success.
But why? What’s the point? Remember Ebenezer Scrooge
of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” An extreme example,
he had all the money he could possibly use, but he went
nowhere, did nothing interesting or entertaining, had no
friends, took no vacations, rejected his extended family,
and ended up totally alone.
Phineas Fogg, for his part, did show he had a heart when
it came to his hapless manservant, finding him when he
was lost, and waiting for him at distant ports – also for the
princess who was to be part of a human sacrifice and for
whom Fogg risked a rescue. But he shared only a few
words of conversation with her during the remaining journey
to England, until he saw that she cared for him and his
happiness in reaching his goal.
Goals should be part of our lives, not instead of our lives.
They should enhance our personalities and emotions, not
hide them from ourselves and others. They should allow us
to grow and become better people, thus making the world
a better place.
We deserve it.