Nearly 2 years ago, I read about a movie called “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” in the New Yorker magazine. A remake based on a James Thurber short story from three-quarters of a century ago, the film was in production for years. It’s directed by and stars Ben Stiller, who has proclaimed it a passion project. The movie came out a few months ago, and though I haven’t seen it, it’s advertised as a parable about embracing adventure and not leading a normal, dormant life.
Walter works a boring job at the soon-to-be defunct Life magazine. A final assignment sends him on a trip around the world, and he finally gets to realize the adventures he’s daydreamed about for years.
What struck me is that Walter works in New York City, in midtown Manhattan to be precise. New York City is a place that people from all of the world fantasize about seeing, even if only once. It is the dream they daydream about. I remember the awe of a Paris taxi driver when my husband and I mentioned we had come from NYC. “I dream of going there one day,” he said. “But you live in PARIS!,” I wanted to respond.
Which is kind of the point. Everywhere else seems like the cure to our sometimes boring, stale lives, which can often feel like Walter’s. And though I love to travel–absolutely love it–there’s something to be said for appreciating where you are, especially when that place is NYC. Chasing the newest, best, most exciting cultural experiences can ultimately feel unfulfilling.
And at a time like this, when everyone is so completely worn out from this horrid winter, keeping the spark alive between you and your city is, well, work. It means getting out even for a few hours, even when you don’t really feel like it. It means appreciating the frigid beauty of a long winter in the city, snow-covered parks and all (pictured below). It means feeling grateful that you get to interact with people from all walks of life every single day, even if on a crowded subway.
Plus, spring is just around the corner. I can feel it.