The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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Convinced that we all have our “Walter Mitty moments”, I wanted to put him in the spotlight. I have only just seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, which was released in 2013. The movie is based on a short story written by James Thurber (one of his masterpieces), first published in The New Yorker in 1939. In 1947 the first movie was released, but today I will discuss the more recent one, because to me it was really amusing and inspirational. However, I am not saying you should not watch the earlier movie or read the story. You should.

The movie tells the story of an ordinary New Yorker, leading a very normal life. His could maybe even be better described as boring; working in the file room of his company and never really taking chances. He is an extraordinary kind man and is amazing at his job, but somehow not at all acknowledged. However, he dreams of an alternate, more exciting life for himself all the time, a life in which he is a superhero and does all the things he normally would never dare to do and more. To give you an example, he is in love with a colleague and does not even dare to send her a winky-face on her dating profile, but still dreams about impressing her with heroic deeds, like flying through the city and rescuing citizens. Unfortunately, he is also lost in his thoughts when she finally does talk to him. Not really the way to go Walter… To sum up, he basically daydreams his way through life.

He is confronted with these personal facts when he loses his job and needs to find a picture, which got lost, for the cover of the final issue of the magazine he works for (ironically called Life Magazine). He decides to, for once, risk everything. He goes on an adventure to find the photographer. The kind of adventure where you are not sure of anything and forget about all the possible negative things that could happen and just trusting that the experience will eventually be good for you, because they always are. The kind that I believe everyone dreams about having sometimes, whether it is getting lost in the jungle or jumping out an airplane. He keeps in mind his entire journey the wise words that are imprinted on the wallet he got from the photographer:

“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

For me, aspects of the story of Walter Mitty feel familiar. I think we all chicken out on real life sometimes. We get comfortable with the way things are and are afraid of stepping out of that comfort zone, believing we are not able, not strong, smart or beautiful enough and that perhaps we’re just too lazy to have such an experience.

So, go on an adventure, watch the funny and beautiful movie and let it inspire you to maybe not get out at the right station for once, to tell that guy that you like him, and to just trust that everything will be okay.

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