I recently made good use of my Netflix account to watch the 2017 remake of the Magnificent Seven. It had a grittiness and realism not evident in the original, 1960 version. That said, I preferred the original. I felt it embodied social comment not evident in the remake.
Life: How is it going for you so far?
One scene in the original version featured the character Faraday, played by Steve McQueen. In this particular scene, Faraday was encouraging an old man living outside of the town limits, and therefore outside of the protective ring created by the Magnificent Seven, to move into town.
After the old man told him that he had not been in danger to date, Faraday responded by suggesting that the old man reminded him of a ‘fellow I once knew who jumped off a ten-story building’. Greeted by a confused look from the old man, Faraday said, ‘As he passed the fifth floor on the way down the fella was heard to say, so far so good!’
While understanding the point, the old man was not moved and decided not to avail himself of the protection offered in the town.
That said, regardless of the response of the old man in the movie, for me the point was clear - as I'm sure it is to you. Maybe I was reading too much into this story, but to me it suggested that we don't often consider the ultimate consequences of our actions well enough.
Life going well to a point is no guarantee that it will continue to go well. No matter where we are right now, it is no guarantee that we will be where we want to be when the process concludes.
So, ask yourself, how are things going for you so far?. No matter whether you are 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of your way along the journey, how are you feeling about your progress right now?
Of course, we know that this journey will have much the same outcome as the story about the fella jumping off the building. It will not end well, but how is it going so far?
This is a question I ask myself every day. I really do not want to get the first floor, centimetres from the ground, only to find that I have left so much undone - or that the journey was not worth jumping in the first place. (And when I say jumping, I do not mean being born. Being born is involuntary, jumping is deliberate).
I chose to jump. I realised when I was in my teens that standing on the roof and looking at the view, no matter how magnificent from the 10th floor, was not living. It is existing. It is breathing until I stop breathing. To truly live, we have to jump, and I took that jump in my teens, and I have been ‘falling’ ever since’.
Jumping is a metaphor for breaking free of those things that hold you down, that prevent you from being yourself. It is all about cutting the safety net of socialised behaviour and the attraction of social acceptance to try and live life my way - according to my rules. It involves not considering what others think of me and realising that it is their issue, not mine.
For others, jumping may be something very different and perhaps more extreme. I know I am a conservative guy. Whatever it is, I cannot see how we can live until we jump. If you have jumped, I ask again, how are you feeling about your progress right now?
Quoted often in another more recent movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, is: "Everything will be alright in the end – and if they are not alright, it is not the end.'' I like this notion very much. It is positive and motivating.
It is very different to the sentiment arising from the line from the line in Magnificent Seven. In my view, it is also much further from the truth. My experience suggests that for most people, it will not be alright in the end, no matter when the end is.
I find that some quotes from popular movies stay with me and make me think. Yes, I know, I am weird.
Another example is a line from Rocky III, the third in a franchise of movies not known for wisdom. In this particular edition, Rocky’s trainer explains to him that he cannot beat his opponent because he had done the 'worst thing a fighter can do – get civilised’.
This brought to mind the tendency for people to take chances when they are young and play it safe as they grow old.
I could write a book about this, and I will write a blog article – soon!
But for now, how is your journey going?
What movies have you seen that have left you thinking?
What famous lines have you pondered?