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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mr Toad and the Dangers of Impulsive Actions

“We’re going merrily on our way to nowhere in particular.”

The Mr. Toad feature was put together with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, to make Disney’s 11th feature “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” in 1949. From 1943 to 1949 Disney did not make feature length stories, but instead made what was called “package” movies, in which several different stories were lumped together to form a feature length motion picture. Most of the movies of this era have not stood the test of time, I fondly remember watching Fun and Fancy Free (1947) on VHS as a kid, but other than that, not many of these are remembered. The Three Caballeros, the most famous of this era, is still relatively unremembered. Ichabod and Mr Toad was the final film of this era before Disney went back to feature stories with Cinderella in 1950. Mr Toad did well in the box office and was publicly and critically acclaimed but has not stood the test of time. Truthfully, the only reason why many people know who Mr. Toad is goes back to the ride that was in Disneyland and Walt Disney World called “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”. As of today, the ride is still operating in Disneyland, but was closed in Walt Disney World and replaced by “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” in 1998. It is sad to say that there are likely many Disney fans who do not know who Mr. Toad is, has never seen the movie, and have never rode on the ride.
Because of the relative obscurity of this movie, I want to be as clear as possible. Mr Toad is based off the book “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame. The premise of the movie is that Toad purchases a stolen motor car, without knowing it was stolen, by giving the weasels the deed to Toad Hall. The police catch Toad and arrest him for stealing a motor car. In court, the bartender who Toad bought the motor car from lies under oath and claims that Toad did, indeed, steal the car and was trying to sell it to him. Mr. Toad is thrown in jail. The rest of the movie is about Toad escaping from jail and claiming back Toad Hall with the help of his friends Rat and Mole. Of course, that is an oversimplified version of the story, I suggest anyone that has not seen it to buy it, it is money well spent. When I watch this movie though, I am infuriated by Mr. Toad. I can tell that they are trying to make him seem like, at least, a somewhat endearing character, but he is VERY flawed. Mr. Toad had a problem that McBadger explained by calling “manias”. Toad would get obsessed over things (riding with a horse and a gypsy cart and driving a motor car) to the point where he did not think rationally. When Toad was in the tavern, he saw this motor car and wanted to buy it, not having any money, he decided to give the deed to his house…let me stop there, his MANSION… in order to have this car. If Toad had stepped back for a moment and had thought this idea through, he would have quickly realized that this was not a very good idea. He would have said, “Well, thanks for the offer, fellas! But I can find a much cheaper motor car elsewhere!” if he had thought it through. What was the problem? Toad acted out of impulse.
The biggest mistake of Toad’s life could have been avoided if he had just thought before he acted. As I was preparing for this life lesson, I tried to find good quotes on the dangers of acting impulsively. I was shocked and dismayed how many people (particularly the “all-wise” movie stars) say that acting impulsively is a good thing. I am here to tell you today, no it is not! I have found in my life that the worst decisions I made I did when I did not think it through. I end up saying or doing things that will come back and bite me when I do not think through the longterm consequences or benefits from my action. There are some decisions in life that are worth winging or acting impulsively, for example, where to eat dinner tonight, paper of plastic, what movie should I get at the Redbox (answer: always a Disney movie!) but there are other decisions where we must proceed with caution and deliberation: who should I marry? How should I respond to this person’s behavior? What should I study in school? Should I make this large purchase? I have met people burdened down by the burden of making an impulsive financial or relational decision, and they wish that they could go back. Very often I counsel people, I have found that the biggest regrets that people have are over decisions that they either did not think through or did think through and went with the wrong decision anyway.
Going “merrily on your way to nowhere in particular” is an endearing behavior if you are simply going for a Sunday afternoon drive, but do not make that phrase your motto for life. Impulsiveness will lead to a train wreck (subtle reference to Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, for those who rode it!)

The Bible says, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?” What is the point? Do not make rash, impulsive decisions, especially over matters of great importance, or else you will find yourself later on down the road in a heap of trouble.

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