As I sat at work today (obviously not working, who does that?) I was talking to a coworker about my upcoming trip to Colorado to see family. Thinking about any type of travel always brings up a longing for new places and (usually) a fondness for memories of places I’ve already been. Well, all this thinking reminded me of a movie. Now I’m not always that big a fan of Ben Stiller (except for the Night at the Museum franchise) but I have absolutely fallen in love with the Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Now it’s a little late for a review (it came out in 2013) and this isn’t really a review, although I do think it’s phenomenal. But this movie really invokes a deep feeling of contentment whenever I watch it. Mitty goes through extremes to get his job done and learns about himself in the process. I don’t want to recap the whole movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it because I hate spoiler alerts. However, there is one part of the movie that affects me probably more than it affects most people but it still gives me goosebumps every time. Walter Mitty is taking the first major leap out of his comfort zone at the beginning of his grand adventure. While he’s literally jumping away from safety, he’s daydreaming that his love interest is singing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” to him. The combination of the music, the literal leap of faith and bravery of doing something so completely out of character are awe inspiring. It’s something you truly have to see to understand and get the full effect.
A secondary plot line in the movie is between Mitty and a customer service rep from an online dating service. Throughout the movie Mitty keeps describing places he’s been, starting out with no where and ending up with all the new places he discovers on his journey. Towards the end of the movie the customer service rep tells Mitty that at the beginning of their acquaintance he thought of Mitty as “grey” but now he thinks of Mitty in terms of bright colors. This also struck a chord in me. I’ve always traveled. Being born in Germany, I didn’t even come to the States until I was 18 months old. Visited Germany again when I was 8. Yearly trips to Colorado, over to my grandparents house near Yosemite National Park and once out to D.C. to my aunt’s house. Made more appearances in Europe when I was 18 and 21. Added to day trips to Fort Bragg, San Francisco and a million other places, I’ve traveled a lot. Kind of like a travelling jack of all trades, master (or native) of none. Put into the context of this movie, I realized that my life could be seen as bright colors even in the rare moments when I’m feeling like everything is pretty gray. I’ve lived a blessed life when it comes to travelling and seeking out new adventures. So as hokey as it sounds, I think Ben Stiller is awesome for helping me realize that.
The fact that such a seemingly small decision can completely change your life gives me the shivers. Buying that plane ticket, or getting on that bus can irrevocably change your life and leave you a completely different person. One small decision and you leave your old life behind. Once you’ve been to new places or tried new things, there’s no going back to who you used to be. Thoughts like that can leave you breathless with excitement and fear. The unknown is both thrilling and frightening.
Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.