Let’s climb . . . let’s climb . . . let’s climb

“Grimpons, grimpons,” sings the French professor in the 1960s Disney film, “In Search of the Castaways.” All the while smiling, and making you feel for sure that anything is possible.

Anything at all–if you just keep climbing.

The word, says actor Maurice Chevalier, means “let’s climb. It is the French recipe for the good life.”

“Whatever you want to do,” continues the singer, “don’t be afraid to do it for fear of failure. Let’s climb. Let’s climb. Let’s climb.”

That upbeat scene, with the troupe singing lustily as they ride donkeys up a steep Andes trail, is the single reason I played “In Search of the Castaways” again and again. The movie empowers me every time I see it.

To begin with, Hayley Mills and her brother had given their ship captain father up for lost and were dealing with the grief of being orphans. But then, miraculously, Prof. Chevalier, who was also a fisherman, found a bottle in the belly of a fish.

A bottle with a note in it. And according to the bottle note, the captain was still alive and being held captive in a remote place. As so often happens, however, when things are a little out of the ordinary, no one would believe the note. No one would listen.

Eventually, it would fall to Chevalier to lead the small group of explorers that would go in search of the captain. The three-and-a-half-star movie is a fantasy adventure based on a novel by Jules Verne. It’s a story that never could have happened, and yet it is filled with truth.

The dangers are unimaginable. Steep drop-offs to bottomless valleys. Giant child-stealing condors. Mountain-moving earthquakes. Massive ethereal caverns. Unfriendly Indian tribes. And ship-stealing crooks.

But, one by one, the small team conquers the dangers. All the time practising “grimpons.”

According to French teacher Sharon Cranston, the “let’s climb” concept is a common one with the French; and there are other words that mean essentially the same thing. One of them is the title of her textbook.

It means simply “let’s scramble . . . let’s climb . . . let’s do it.” Whatever the chosen task is, “grimpons.”

It’s important to climb, no question about it. But what this movie highlights is the even greater importance of enjoying the ascent.

Most people, for example, would have clutched the narrow ledge on the mountain-side when the shattering earthquake hit, hiding their eyes and spending all their energy on fear. But not Chevalier. He led everyone to a safe place and then delighted in the fantasy sight of mountains breaking away.

“Oh, magnificent!” he said. “This is an experience that makes our entire expedition worthwhile.”

It was the same when their piece of mountain broke away and the team rode a rock sled through fantastic chasms and valleys. Rocks were falling around them, and at any moment their sled could have gone over a cliff.

But no matter, Chevalier still kept calling everyone’s attention back to the beauty of the ride.

It’s so hard sometimes to notice the beauty of the ride when things are difficult; but then when the danger is over, the beauty is also gone. There’s only one way to enjoy life–and that’s while it’s happening.

So if you’re looking for a perfect recipe for the good things this side of 60, why not try “grimpons”?

Let’s climb. Let’s climb. Let’s climb. Whatever you want to do, don’t be afraid to do it for fear of failure. And above all, enjoy every minute.